Holly E. Schreiber


Lieber Memorial Teaching Associate Award (2013)
Indiana University Bloomington
College of Arts and Sciences
Department of Comparative Literature


Holly Schreiber taught her first class in a rural village in China; adventure and discovery have characterized her teaching ever since. She has taught in four departments, Comparative Literature, English, American Studies, and Asian American Studies, on such varied subjects as comedy and controversy; science fiction, fantasy, and the Cold War; and multiracial topics. As a tutor at her alma mater, Bowdoin, and now for Writing Tutorial Services at IU, Schreiber places individual attention and mentoring at the heart of her pedagogy, both in her interactions with her students and in her use of peer exercises in the classroom. As a result of her broad experience, her willingness to take risks, and her student-centered approach, Schreiber has become "an expert teacher," according to Bill Johnston, chair of the Department of Comparative Literature, one who "can anticipate what her students will find curious, challenging, and puzzling."

Schreiber's classroom practice is a model of how to successfully integrate active learning, peer interaction, and technology to enhance learning and place students in control of their educational experience. Her students become participants in joint discovery, rather than the recipients of a canned presentation. This comports with what Schreiber calls her "two core goals": "to empower students to take charge of their own education and to give them the confidence to see the value in their own ideas." Schreiber's success also derives from her willingness to take risks every time she enters the classroom. "Being a teacher inevitably makes a student out of me," says Schreiber, who approaches each course as an opportunity for sharing discoveries with her class. "By always trying new things in the classroom, I keep myself off-kilter enough to share in the learning process with my students."

Schreiber also provides students an environment for the constructive discussion of difficult topics related to race, gender, and sexuality, not only as a means to enrich the exploration of class texts, but as an important critical skill in its own right. Fellow graduate student Elizabeth Geballe notes how successfully Schreiber has been in creating such a space: "It is clear that Holly's students had developed a vocabulary to discuss charged topics in a safe and stimulating environment." Such pedagogy works only when the teacher makes personal connections with each student, as Schreiber does. One student writes of "her genuine care for the students." Another calls her "that rarest of professors, one who knows her students exist outside of class." A third reports that "she provided the best outside-of-class help I think I've ever received."

In this respect Schreiber's interest and experience in tutoring and mentoring inform her classes. As a tutor for the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning's Writing Program, she has worked one-on-one with students writing papers in a variety of humanities courses, with a special focus on international students. In addition to tutoring, Schreiber leads a team of graduate-tutor facilitators that works with dissertation writers from a variety of disciplines on improving their writing and making steady progress toward their degrees. "The program has been quite successful," notes Laura Plummer, director of the Writing Program. "Students report they are reaching their writing goals and moving through their theses with improved speed and enthusiasm."

Schreiber's fellow graduate students also benefit from her generous support and guidance. "Not only because of the sheer range of her experience, but because of her reputation as a highly competent, knowledgeable instructor, many other associate instructors seek her out for counsel," observes Johnston. Geballe is one. "During my first year teaching here at IU, Holly became my unofficial mentor," she says. "Now that I am in my third year of teaching, I still find myself using resources she created to help students." It's no surprise that Associate Professor of American Studies Vivian Halloran says that "of all the graduate students I have worked with and mentored here at Indiana University, Holly Schreiber is by far the best teacher."