Brock Teaching Education professor continues to excel in her line of research

Jennifer_Brittany Brooks

Dr. Jennifer Rowsell is not only a big thinker, her line of research truly reflects Brock’s ‘Both Sides of the
Brain’ campaign.
As a professor in the department of Teaching Education and a Canada Research Chair of Multiliteracies, Rowsell’s research is largely centred in working with children, adolescents and teenagers on arts projects in the Community Arts Zone, focusing on photography, movement and drama as different modes of learning literacy. She has since transitioned into researching the popular video game Minecraft, working with a group of middle school students by observing their game play, their different interests in the video game, and its connections with literacy and learning.
“Minecraft is described by its developers, Mojang, as ‘a game about breaking and placing blocks’, which is essentially virtual Lego. It’s an online sandbox game that invites players to develop and navigate complex structures and environments of their own design. Dr. Rob Simon, his graduate students and I are working on this project together,” said Rowsell.
“I am also conducting a six-month research project on 21st century reading at the Brock Learning Lab (formerly the Reading Clinic) with Brock Masters candidate Chrystal Colquhoun and visiting scholar from Brazil, Dr. Fernando Maues. We are observing five to 13-year-olds as they read on iPads, documenting the differences between this avenue of reading and book reading.”
On Apr. 2, Rowsell presented her research at the Ontario and Canada Research Chair Symposium in Toronto, speaking about what literacy used to be and contrasting to what it is today in a talk called “That was Then…This is Now” at the Big Thinkers Event.
“My talk is a brief retrospective of past and present literacy. It will feature four research projects that illustrate the new literacies that we engage in and how they need to inform curriculum, pedagogy and policy. I will also describe a landscape view of where we need to be in order to compete with other international contexts that have radically changed their pedagogy and policy to meet new skills and competencies,” said Rowsell.
Earlier this year, Rowsell was elected into the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists and is one of the newest members of the Royal Canada Society, which is the country’s top academic body. Through her line of research, she hopes that alternative formats and different modes of teaching are introduced in the classroom, especially as the digital field continues to rapidly progress.
Within the next year as a professor and research chair, there is so much that has yet to be accomplished.
“In combination with my current projects, I will be starting a research project with Julianne Burgess at Mohawk College in Hamilton with young adult leaders called Mapping Memories. These learners are new Canadians and we will be interviewing them about language and identity, and how they use digital and non-digital texts to maintain a sense of home and culture,” said Rowsell.
“I am also a part of a large five-year research project with Tier 1 Canada Research Chair, Andrea Doucet, and Dr. Diane Collier on Re-Making the Modern Family. More details will come soon as we are just setting up the project at this point.”

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