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SCC Sociology Professor’s Research Published in Scholarly Journal
While pursuing her doctorate in sociology, St. Charles Community College assistant professor Dr. Dana Prewitt began researching how identities such as gender and race shaped the work of educators.
“I focused on elementary-level teachers,” she explained. “I found that many educators’ approaches to their students are partially a reflection of their own identities. For instance, the men I interviewed saw an importance of being a man in an elementary classroom. They were aware that they were in the numerical minority, and saw that as an opportunity to show students that men are also elementary teachers, and that they were caring, compassionate educators.”
Prewitt’s research found African American men, in particular, were especially keen to see their role in their students' lives as mentors and positive role models. For them it was important to counter unflattering images of black men, and to provide their students with tools to navigate society as they grew up.
“I was so inspired by the teachers I interviewed for my research,” Prewitt said. “They all cared so deeply for their students and sought to be mentors as well as educators, particularly for students in disadvantaged circumstances.”
Not only did she defend her research to earn her doctorate, her work was recently published in Humanity & Society, the official journal of the Association for Humanist Sociology.
“Dana is our first full-time Ph.D. faculty member in the sociology department,” said Vicky Herbel, interim dean of arts, humanities and social sciences. “She is extremely passionate about sociology, and she brings that passion inside the classroom every day, even in the virtual space.”
“I try to always be open about my goals and intentions to my students. I want to be as transparent as I can when trying something new. Sometimes things work, and sometimes they fall flat,” Prewitt said. “I never let that discourage me. I engage with my students on what is helpful to their learning and what wasn’t. It helps me better understand how the material resonates with my students.”
Prewitt is serious about her craft, but she doesn’t let that stand in the way of having a little fun along the way.
“I try to sprinkle some humor and my interests into class examples (and am happy to make fun of myself while doing so),” she joked. “I really love the show The Office, and that makes its way into my tests and even my online syllabus. It's my hope that students get to see some of my personality and interests that way.”
Prewitt came to SCC in 2019 and quickly became involved on campus. She’s presented at various events, including the African American Faculty and Staff Association’s Black History Month series and Democracy Days. In her conversations with participants, she encourages them to be curious about the world around them.
“I find that to be incredibly important in being a well-rounded citizen,” said Prewitt. “I also think it's important in understanding who we are as people. Learning more about society and its impact on our experiences, ideas, thoughts, behaviors, etc. can be important in understanding who we are and our sense of place in the world."
Prewitt currently teaches Introduction to Sociology and Contemporary Social Issues. She hopes to bring a Sociology of Education course to campus soon, based partially on her doctorate research.
“It's very easy to make assumptions about what people do and why-- social sciences remind us that there is a logic behind what people do,” she said.