Butler Receives Best Article Award

An article written by Tamara Butler, assistant professor in the Department of English and the African American and African Studies Program, was selected to receive the Theory Into Practice (TIP) Best Article Award for 2015.

woman with glasses posing with woman with blonde hair“Flipping the Script: When Service-Learning Recipients Become Service-Learning Givers” looks at how teachers can institute critical service-learning programs in an urban classroom. The article stems from a longstanding partnership between the Columbus, Ohio, City School District, the local teachers' union (Columbus Education Association), the National Education Association Foundation, and The Ohio State University where Butler was a doctoral student at the time. 

Through this partnership, Butler worked closely with Pam Reed, a middle school teacher, but not as a researcher rather more as a classroom assistant.

“The article stands as a testament of our work together,” Butler said. “I was a doctoral student who was often inundated with theories, but was committed to working in classrooms and communities. Pam is a middle school teacher who was open to change and committed to educational equity and excellence, though hesitant about whether or not academics wanted to hear about her practice especially without all of the theoretical jargon.”  

This work is significant because it begins to push against the narrative that positions marginalized students as powerless, voiceless persons in need.

The article is not focused on positioning service-learning as a way to save students from low socioeconomic backgrounds or students who have been historically marginalized.

Instead, it focuses on how a reflective educator can harness the power of her students to develop critical service-learning projects with and for her students. 

“This work is significant because it begins to push against the narrative that positions marginalized students (i.e., urban, low SES, students of color, etc.) as powerless, voiceless persons in need. Instead, Pam and I highlight that power can come from the margins and that marginalized students can influence and inspire one another as well as transform their own communities when they are valued and supported,” Butler said.

The selection for the Best Article Award was made based on nominations from members of the TIP editorial board and evaluations made by the editorial team.

“I am deeply honored to have received this award,” Butler said. “Once we found out that we were the recipients, Pam and I spoke often about how surreal this all felt. In reviewing the list of previous winners, we were shocked to find that we – an English teacher and a new professor – were now among the list of established scholars in the field of education.”  

Butler was presented with the award at the TIP/Ohio State reception during the American Educational Research Association annual meeting in Washington, D.C., on April 8.

Published since 1962, Theory Into Practice is a national, peer reviewed journal featuring practical perspectives and scholarly discussions on current issues in education. It is published quarterly by The Ohio State University's College of Education.