Dr. J. Michael Rifenburg, Associate Professor of English, has received the 2022 USG’s Regents’ Award for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning.

Michael Rifenburg

“It’s humbling, for sure,” Rifenburg said about receiving the recognition.

After securing UNG’s Distinguished Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award, Rifenburg was chosen to represent UNG for the Regents’ Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award.

A large part of Rifenburg’s application revolved around SoTL work with students as research and writing partners.

“I have a firm commitment to studying the teaching and learning environment and involving students in research on teaching and learning,” Rifenburg said. “I have recently had the opportunity to co-present and co-author research on curriculum redesign with undergraduate students at UNG and believed the work we accomplished together would be worthy of consideration for this prestigious award.”

The curriculum reform Rifenburg referenced is a project where he and two undergraduate students redesigned elements of English 4800, a senior capstone course, implementing a signature experience and ePortfolio in the newly designed class.

This project has produced an article forthcoming in a special issue of Journal of University Learning & Teaching Practices.

“The work I find myself doing is driven by the wonderful partnerships with students and faculty at UNG,” Rifenburg said. “I am thankful for the student co-researchers and faculty co-researchers who, like me, are fascinated by how learning works and dedicated to creating conditions to support all learners.”

Rifenburg became involved in SoTL work through his participation in the SoTL Academy in 2014. Through that experience he “gained knowledge and skills related to investigating teaching and learning.” UNG’s Center for Teaching, Learning, and Leadership offers the SoTL Academy on a rotating basis with the HIP Academy.

He received his master’s in Rhetoric and Composition from Auburn University and his doctorate in Composition/Rhetoric/Literacy from University of Oklahoma. He is a writer, a teacher, and a lifelong learner.

Rifenburg authored The Embodied Playbook: Writing Practices of Student-Athletes(Utah State University Press, 2018) and co-edited Contemporary Perspectives on Cognition and Writing (WAC Clearinghouse, 2017).

When it comes to his teaching philosophy, Rifenburg said it’s best “to shut up, get out of the way, and allow writers time and space to play with words.”

He professes “A firm belief that I do not have all the answers and that through communal knowledge building, we all arrive at a stronger understanding of how writing operates in our individual lives.”

His teaching started from his love of writing.

“One part I love about working in the English Department and teaching writing classes is when I have the chance to sit down one-on-one with a writer and play with sentences,” Rifenburg said.

This is the second consecutive year a UNG faculty member has received the Regents’ SoTL Award with Dr. Caroline Muñoz, Associate Professor of Marketing, obtaining the award last year.

UNG awards offered through CTLL, DETI, CURCA, and Academic Engagement are open now through Monday, April 4, 2022, at 12 p.m. You must apply for UNG awards before being chosen to represent UNG at the USG level. Find more information here.