Faculty Feature: Dr. Pfannenstiel

Dr. Nicole Pfannenstiel (she/her/hers) is an Associate Professor of English and the Graduate Coordinator. Dr. Pfannenstiel received her MA in English and PhD in Rhetoric, Composition, and Linguistics both from Arizona State. Her research revolves around “Sense of belonging and Graduate Pedagogy” and she has been working in graduate education for over 20 years. As the Graduate Coordinator, she states that “I want to work with student-centered pedagogical theories from undergraduate education to improve the graduate student learning experience. I work to bring high structure to graduate education, to draw attention to the hidden curricular pieces. My aim is to break down silos and barriers so our program supports all students, including marginalized students even more underrepresented in graduate school, attending, completing and succeeding in our graduate program.”

Earlier this year Dr. Pfannenstiel was recognized for her outstanding commitment to students on this campus with the 2023 Sarah Lindsley Person of the Year Award, presented by Millersville’s Student Government Association. She remarked about this honor that “there is no greater honor at a teaching focused institution than to be honored by the students.” She was also recently nominated for the EVA awards for her EPPIIC Professionalism for her continued commitment to helping students understand and take-on professional roles.

She carries the remarkable ethos that brought her these awards and recognition into her scholarship. Dr. Pfannenstiel’s new book Web Writing, which is published as a peer-reviewed Open Educational Resource (OER) on paadopt.org, is part of an ongoing grant to remove financial barriers to studies by creating OER textbooks to alleviate one of the hidden costs of education. Web Writing itself explores a rhetorical approach to web writing, content management, and meaning making in contemporary social media. This book works alongside her WRIT 318 curriculum focused on building an understanding of the rhetoric and content strategy of writing online. You can access the entire book for free here: (https://paadopt.org/bookshelf/web-writing/ ).


Here are some of Dr. P’s favorite Media!

Favorite book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and so much P&P fanfiction.

Favorite movie: Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

Favorite TV show: Bones (2005)

Favorite videogame: AFK Arena – I am obsessed with casual games – this is my favorite mobile casual game with RPG elements.


What does it mean to Dr. Pfannenstiel to be an English and World Languages Scholar?

“When I stepped in as Graduate Coordinator there were several external pressures on graduate programs and graduate education. In the last five years those external pressures remain, but have shifted. In collaborative work with Dr. Kaitlin Mondello, we’ve found a focused attention on PhD programs and preparing PhDs for the reality of the professorate profession AND alt-ac positions. However, there is very little attention on regional, public, master’s granting institutions. We know our graduate programs are an important public good, we also know that students need different supports to support their work through the skill development required at the graduate level. When I began graduate school, the mentality was sink or swim. This doesn’t have to be the pedagogical approach. I was required to complete assignments, that I now see align with skills I’m using on a daily basis as a professor – bringing transparency to these assignments and overall curricular design is one of the most important decisions I’ve made as an educator. My goal is to work with all faculty, especially graduate faculty in the English & World Languages department, to bring transparency into our curricular design in ways that support graduate-specific skill development and professional development. Then, to continue collaborating with Dr. Mondello on publications and presentations so we raise scholarly awareness about the need to rethink approaches to graduate pedagogy. Essentially, I identified a need in a student population. I’ve devoted countless hours to research, presentations, grant funded projects, and hopefully in the near future publications to research and enact new pedagogical approaches to benefit learners. I think this is a really important way English and World Languages scholars carry our focus on the human experience into the real world. All areas of the English & World Languages department center the human experience in their research – I am extending those in specific ways. I see my research questions centered in the human experience. I see my research, presentations and grants as reflecting the scholarship valued by peers in the professorate. I see being a scholar as connecting my research to benefitting a community – specifically graduate students!”


Thank you Dr. Pfannenstiel for sharing your knowledge and commitment to your students!