School of Education professor Jeremy Stoddard has a piece of paper thumbtacked to a board in his office. It’s a student evaluation form that a school principal filled out, assessing one of Stoddard’s students. At the bottom it reads, “I hired her!”
For Stoddard, the fact that his students are able to make an immediate impact in schools is the accomplishment he’s most proud of in his nine years of teaching at William & Mary. “I feel very fortunate to work with the students that we have here at William & Mary. They come here because they want to be challenged and they want to work hard and engage.”
Stoddard came to William & Mary, not only for the teaching-research mix, but because a lot of his work is in history education. “It’s sort of a history geek’s paradise.”
Stoddard’s research focuses on how students learn about history and politics through media. He realized how much teachers’ political views came into the decisions of what media they engage students with. “More recently, I’ve been interested in how that’s affected all the money going into politics — a lot of it’s been in media strategy, both news and advertising. How do we prepare kids coming out of high school for that media-rich political environment? How do we help them critically filter political messages they find in media, as well as prepare them to be able to take political action as citizens using these media forms?”
Stoddard has also been involved in studies regarding the impact and validity of standardized testing. What Stoddard and his colleagues have found is that teachers who are engaging their students in things like higher-level thinking, inquiry and writing have students who do as well or better than those who teach to the test.
“You can still teach in more authentic ways, where kids will learn things they actually need out in the world. When you come out of school, nobody asks you to take a standardized test.”
Stoddard directed the Cambridge Study Abroad Program in 2009 and has taught in two D.C. Summer Institutes. Last year, Stoddard received a Reves Faculty Fellowship, taking two graduate students to Singapore to complete a study comparing Virginia teacher development programs to those in Singapore.
“These types of experiences have made William & Mary unique. Especially at research universities, you don’t always get to cross into other departments.”
“I think students are surprised that I grew up on a small farm in Minnesota. I don’t have what they perceive as a Minnesota accent. Not everyone in Minnesota talks like they do in ‘Fargo.’”
Stoddard is a member of the Colonial Ale Smiths & Keggers (CASK), a local home brewing club.