My teaching approach is influenced by progressive educational philosophies. I believe that teachers should act as guides working with their students in an effort to break down the hypodermic model of communication, where information is transmitted one-way from teacher to students. My teaching philosophy centers students by inviting them to share their past experiences in the classroom, which creates a more relevant and meaningful context in which to learn. By allowing my students to bring their previous experiences into the current learning environment they are encouraged to reflect on how the course content connects with their lives. This approach deepens their engagement with the course goals, content, and learning objectives.

I strongly believe in providing my students with opportunities for experiential learning through community engagement coursework. My colleagues and I developed the innovative “Community Informatics Studio” model to incorporate studio-based pedagogy and community engagement theory in library and information science (see Wolske, Rhinesmith, & Kumar, 2014). In this approach, “students and instructors work together within a studio space that serves as a model of professional practice, incorporating field visits to inform work. Regular student reflections also help students think more deeply about the paths that lead them to their final project designs.” (p. 168). In the first part of the semester, students spend time engaging deeply with community informatics and community engagement theory, including discussions of how power, privilege, and oppression impact university-community partnerships. This preparation gives my students and me the opportunity to reflect on how to develop more equal partnerships between students, faculty, and community members.

My teaching philosophy embraces difference as a resource and seeks to promote multiple ways of knowing as a strategy for creating more inclusive, just, and equitable learning environments. For example, my graduate students and I described how this approach guided the design, implementation, and evaluation of a young adult (YA) public library space design program with teens and librarians through a community–university partnership in Moore, Oklahoma (see Rhinesmith, Dettmann, Pierson, & Spence, 2015). The paper contributes a “YouthStudio” model, as a theoretical and methodological framework for studying public library YA space design projects with teens and librarians using participatory research, community informatics, and design techniques. Progressive and critical educational philosophies are deeply embedded in this collaborative praxis. I have brought these experiences with me to my teaching at Simmons, particularly in my LIS 410 Information Services for Diverse Users course where we partner with local libraries to help them engage with marginalized populations in their communities.

My teaching promotes diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice by embracing these and other critical and participatory pedagogical models. I have used these techniques as a strategy for engaging with teens, as described above, as a historically marginalized group in public library settings. I have also taught my graduate students how to design popular education workshops with underserved populations that focus on people’s everyday experiences with technology as a critical starting point for information technology training. In our paper, Dr. Martin Wolske and I developed a Critical Interpretive Sociotechnical framework, which can be considered as a library and information science-oriented pedagogy focused on promoting equity and broader justice goals (see Rhinesmith & Wolske, 2015). These are some of the publications that have articulated my teaching philosophy and provided a theoretical and applied framework for my community engagement courses.


2020- Associate Professor, School of Library and Information Science, Simmons University

2016-2020 Assistant Professor, School of Library and Information Science, Simmons University

2014-2016 Assistant Professor, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Oklahoma

2012-2014 Teaching Assistant and Co-Instructor, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


School of Library and Information Science, Simmons University (2016-)

  • Public Libraries (graduate)
  • Social Informatics (graduate)
  • Theories of Information Science (graduate)
  • Communities of Discourse (undergraduate)
  • Organizational/Information Ethics (graduate)
  • Information Services for Diverse Users (graduate)
  • Technology for Information Professionals (graduate)

School of Library and Information Studies, University of Oklahoma (2014-2016)

  • Community Relations and Advocacy (graduate)
  • Evaluation Methods (graduate)
  • Leadership in Information Organizations (graduate)
  • Social Informatics (undergraduate/graduate)

Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2012-2014)

  • Co-Instructor, Community Informatics Studio (graduate)
  • Co-Instructor, Introduction to Networked Information Systems (graduate) [+]
  • Teaching Assistant, Libraries, Information, and Society (graduate)
  • Teaching Assistant, Social Aspects of Information and Communication Technology (undergraduate) [+]

[+] = Recipient of the teaching award “University of Illinois List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students” for this class.

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