by Molly Chapple
University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism & Mass Communications associate professor of practice Michelle Hassler recently received the top award in the 2017 AEJMC Great Ideas for Teachers (GIFT) competition. Hassler participated as one of 25 finalists in the competition, which was held on Aug. 9 in Chicago.
Hassler’s entry involved requiring students to experience the journalism practice of embedding. For the assignment, Hassler required students to embed at two local refugee agencies in Lincoln, Nebraska, to help them develop a better understanding of refugees and immigrants and the challenges they face.
Hassler’s students in the Nebraska Mosaic journalism capstone course are tasked with interviewing and writing about the refugee community in Lincoln. Hassler said the students took well to the idea of embedding with the agencies, and that it helped them prepare for subsequent interviews.
“I loved this experience,” one student wrote. “Prior to the embed assignment I had little to no personal contact with refugees. I was going into this class blind. I thought that the refugees I interacted with would be afraid or unwilling to talk with me. I thought I would be seen as an intruder of sorts. This wasn’t my experience at all. The people I spoke with were very willing to have conversations with me.”
GIFT is a refereed panel presentation of the top teaching tips and techniques held each year at the annual AEJMC conference. Any member of AEJMC is eligible to submit a GIFT presentation. The Small Projects Interest Group and Community College Journalism Association sponsor the competition.
Hassler teaches multimedia journalism courses at the CoJMC. She also created and taught University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s first social media course for journalism majors. Hassler was one of 11 educators chosen to present teaching ideas to Journalism Interactive in February 2013. She has received several national teaching honors, including third place in the 2011 and 2012 Teaching News Terrifically in the 21st Century competition, as well as various other AEJMC awards.
Hassler also was honored in 2004, 2005 and 2007 by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Teacher's Council and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Parents Association, which recognize faculty, advisers and staff members who have had a significant impact on the lives of one or more undergraduates.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s in English, both from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) is a nonprofit organization of more than 3,700 educators, students and practitioners from around the globe. Founded in 1912, by Willard Grosvenor Bleyer, the first president (1912-13) of the American Association of Teachers of Journalism, as it was then known, AEJMC is the oldest and largest alliance of journalism and mass communication educators and administrators at the college level.
AEJMC’s mission is to promote the highest possible standards for journalism and mass communication education, to encourage the widest possible range of communication research, to encourage the implementation of a multi-cultural society in the classroom and curriculum, and to defend and maintain freedom of communication in an effort to achieve better professional practice, a better informed public, and wider human understanding.