- Lieber Memorial Teaching Associate Award (2013)
Sarah Hatteberg, raised by a college professor and an elementary school teacher, knew she wanted to teach before she knew what she wanted to teach. During her time at Indiana University Bloomington, Hatteberg has tackled an impressive range of teaching assignments, but has not made it easy for anyone—her students or herself. And for this, she is warmly and enthusiastically celebrated. “Drawing from her background as an athlete, Sarah realized that respect is not achieved through leniency, but through unexpected challenges and exacting standards,” says Kody Steffy, also a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology. Steffy recalls a pedagogy course he and Hatteberg took years ago as first-time instructors in the department. “At the outset of the course, Sarah presented an ambitious syllabus, chock-full of writing-intensive activities,” he writes. “When warned that students might be put off by all the work and that her grading load would be substantial, Sarah was not fazed and proceeded as planned. Unlike some others in the class, Sarah’s main concern was not minimizing the burden of teaching, but challenging her students.”
Hatteberg has had a commanding hand in teaching undergraduate and graduate students, 100-level courses and advanced statistical modeling workshops, courses that help her peers teach sociology, and a course on global health inequalities taught in Germany as part of an exchange program. “Sarah’s teaching across all of these different topics and different levels is as good as it gets,” says Eliza Pavalko, chair of the Department of Sociology. Hatteberg has already won numerous academic scholarships, fellowships, and awards, including the Sutherland Teaching Award, given for excellence and commitment to teaching in the Department of Sociology. She was selected as her department’s Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) Fellow and has pursued extra mentoring and training in the scholarship of teaching and learning to improve her teaching skills. Hatteberg writes that she chose a career in sociology because of its ability “to prepare new generations of individuals to be contributing members of society.” In her courses, she strives to “provide training in disciplinary content while also teaching students a number of vital skills that will contribute to their academic, professional, and personal growth.”
Here’s where the hard work comes in, for Hatteberg and for her students. She believes student engagement and discussions are key, so she works to create an atmosphere where students—many of whom are not sociology majors—feel comfortable contributing. She learns all of her students’ names early in the semester and tries to learn a bit about their individual backgrounds, interests, and experiences, so that she may draw on them as she explains course material. Hatteberg supplements her lectures and discussions with a variety of activities, such as multimedia presentations, debates, role playing, educational games, and the ever-popular breaching experiments, where students invade a smallish space on campus so they can study the reactions they generate among bystanders. In hopes of exposing more students to sociology, she developed a course on the sociology of sport. This course continues to be one of the most popular in the department. “All too often critics view undergraduate teaching as pandering to the students. To these critics, being engaging or studentcentered is equated with not being rigorous in the classroom. I wish these critics could observe Sarah,” says Brian Powell, co-director of the PFF program.
Hatteberg, a competitive swimmer while at Lake Forest College, has mentored student-athletes on the Bloomington campus, using the opportunity to view the classroom from the student-athletes’ unique perspective. “Sarah’s commitment to developing the student-athletes in our mentoring program was obvious through my conversations with her and the students she was assigned,” writes Dustin Swanson, assistant director of academic support for football. “She held them accountable, and she helped develop the academic identity they so desperately needed.” Many of her fans speak of the extra, above-and-beyond steps Hatteberg takes inside and outside of the classroom, such as encouraging a student’s dream to pursue medical school and driving a student across town to purchase school supplies for class. Powell, who co-taught a course with Hatteberg as part of her PFF fellow duties, says he is unabashedly “wowed” by her commitment to students.
“If I were asked to choose just one word to best describe Sarah’s teaching and her approach to teaching, it would be joyous,” Powell says. “I’m very glad that she chose to teach sociology because she has an uncanny ability to bring sociology to life and to make students appreciate both the very detail-oriented empirical facts and the broader theoretical concerns addressed by the discipline.”