Maltby wins Chancellor’s Award for innovation in teaching
One expects that an English professor likes to read, and Deborah Maltby is no exception. She grew up surrounded by books of the Victorian era.
“I grew up reading stuff like that and liked it and it seemed very natural to me,” she said. “Unlike people who don’t read anything like that until they get to college and think the language is inaccessible, to me it’s perfectly normal.”
Maltby’s love of literature has served her well as an associate teaching professor of English at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. Her reverence for the subject matter, combined with an enthusiasm for teaching, has earned her the 2014 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence for a Non-Tenure Track Faculty Member. She will receive the award Sept. 17 during the State of the University Address in the J.C. Penney Building at UMSL.
“There is so much good teaching going on in the English department that they could have made a strong case for any one of us to get an award like this,” Maltby said. “I am honored and thrilled.”
Maltby joined UMSL’s English faculty in 2007, after earning her doctorate from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She started teaching at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., in 1996, and continued after starting her doctoral studies, until she earned her Ph.D. in 2007. She liked the atmosphere at the small liberal arts school, and wasn’t sure the large, urban campus of UMSL would suit her.
An on-campus job interview changed her mind. She left impressed with the faculty’s devotion to students and learning and remains more than satisfied with her decision. She’s known for incorporating innovative techniques and subject matter into her classes.
“Professor Maltby is not only a first-rate teacher, she is a teacher-innovator, participating in experimental ventures that challenge students to be active in their education,” said Richard Cook, professor of English at UMSL.
Maltby earned a doctorate in British literature, British history, and composition and rhetoric. She has taught numerous classes at UMSL, including Transatlantic Women Writers and 19th-century British literature, and developed the Reacting to the Past curriculum in collaboration with history Professor Laura Westhoff.
As a result of her diverse scholarly background, she often uses her knowledge of history to bring context to the literature of earlier times, incorporating role-playing games to help students understand the politics of World War I before reading poetry from the era. She is also known for her use of service-learning.
“UMSL is a neat place to teach because there are so many opportunities,” Maltby said. “I’m not just allowed but encouraged to try new things.”
Students in her English 3100 class have the option of volunteering for the literacy organization Ready Readers. Maltby’s students read to classrooms with young children, and she’s exploring possibilities for students to volunteer at food pantries and community gardens for another class she’s developing. Students write papers to reflect on their experience and connect it to their course material.
“It really helps them think through the class and makes it more real,” Maltby said. “The students do a fantastic job with it. The kids react well to them and the students really care about the kids.”
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