Excellence in Part-Time Teaching: Kathryn Johnson

Kathryn Johnson

Kathryn Johnson, a contingent senior instructor in Northern Michigan University's History Department, is a recipient of the 2021-22 NMU Excellence in Part-Time Teaching Award.

“The most rewarding aspect of teaching is helping students to expand their knowledge about why the past matters to understand the world today," she said. "Along with that, helping them to develop critical inquiry skills and communication skills that will help them succeed personally and professionally amidst increasing social, technological, economic and political complexity."

The skills Johnson referenced, along with problem-solving, argumentation and collaboration, are also emphasized in the historical role-playing modules she incorporates into on-campus and hybrid general education history courses. She also has developed innovative online history courses, including one that utilizes virtual reality. 

“VR history apps afford students the opportunity to immersively engage and virtually interact in historic places,” said Johnson. “I designed a Virtual Tours course to equip students with an understanding of the basic elements of political, social, economic and cultural history. Student choice is an essential component of the course because they select their tours for each era and then conduct further research in a scholarly journal on a topic of their interest related to their tour.” 

Johnson completed all coursework for the Doctorate of Distance Education at Athabasca University in Canada, and is now writing a dissertation on the comparative historical origins of open universities in North America.

Her research agenda ahead includes plans to become one of few historians of distance education. Other research interests include the history of Finnish American labor activism, Finnish American culture, Michigan's Upper Peninsula. and the scholarship of teaching and learning in fields such as education technology, academic service learning and active learning. 

Applying her new expertise in the theoretical foundations and practices of nontraditional learning, she designed and taught her first full NMU graduate course this past summer: Adult Learner, blending American and Canadian literature emphasizing adult learning for training and social change.

In addition to serving on the NMU Teaching and Learning Advisory Council and coordinating the History Department's teaching assistant program, Johnson is also the interim managing editor for The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning


Prepared By

Jessica-Ann Woodard
Student Writer

Categories: Around NMU