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2017 Thomas Jefferson Award

2017 Thomas Jefferson Award

Betsy Baker

Professor of Literacy Studies
University of Missouri-Columbia

For more than 20 years, Betsy Baker has served on the MU College of Education faculty. Her personal goal is to enable teachers, parents, administrators, policymakers and journalists to have free access to the best research conducted in literacy studies. To accomplish, Baker created the Voice of Literacy podcast in 2008. The library, with more than 120 podcasts, advances free public education that advocates for tolerance of different ideas to solve public problems encountered by illiteracy.   

 “These podcasts clearly extend the reach of the authors interviewed and their work,” David Reinking, Eugene T. Moore Professor of Education at Clemson University wrote in a letter of recommendation. “Thus, her efforts to advance public education and extend the research into the domain of applying knowledge to the solution of public problems, specifically in the area of education, also consistent with the criteria for the Thomas Jefferson Award.”

Baker has won numerous awards throughout her career including: The William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence, the President’s Award for Innovative Teaching in 2012, the Ernest L. Boyer International Award for Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Technology, among others for her pioneering contributions to literacy studies.

“She is one of the most forward-looking thinkers in our field concerning the ways technology can be used to further our work as literacy educators and researchers,” Vanderbilt Professor Deborah Wells wrote. “She has made outstanding contributions in the area of technology integration in literacy education and has creatively employed new technologies to disseminate her own and other scholars’ research with the aim of improving instruction.”

Beyond teaching and disseminating research, Baker has contributed to the body of work in the literacy field. She has authored or co-authored more than 25 peer-reviewed papers and chapters in edited volumes. She secured funding in excess of $500,000 for research from external sources, including Verizon and the Department of Education.

“Such funding is extremely competitive,” wrote nominator Victoria Risko, Professor Emerita at Vanderbilt University. “With this funding, Dr. Baker has produced over twenty-five multimedia cases for teacher preparation within the last decade. The quality of these productions has no parallel; there is no other resource that can be compared to the quality, diversity, and impact of these multimedia materials.”

Reviewed 2019-09-27