Dr. Amber Nicole Pfannenstiel loves games, and if you’ve taken a class with her, you know the game. The #DrPGame is an opportunity provided to her students to earn extra credit by Tweeting about a fun topic proposed each week. While posting a few Tweets may seem all fun and games, there’s real meaning embedded in those 280 characters.
“The game is designed for everyone,” said Pfannenstiel. “I think it’s really important to look for the inclusivity piece.” Her passion for online and digital learning contributes to this perspective.
Pfannenstiel has been a Millersville professor in the English & World Languages department since 2016. “I love writing about teaching and learning, and I love writing about writing,” she said. “I also love digital technology tools,” she added.
She has a deep understanding of what it means to teach classes digitally and enhance the online experience, such as through the Millersville online degree completion in Writing Studies.
“There’s a lot of value of having students on campus. There’s a lot of value to, for some students, the dorm experience,” she explained. “But there are a lot of ways neither of those things are accessible to other communities.”
This calls for both universities and educators to adopt new ways of creating educational opportunities.
“Online opens up who that degree is now accessible to,” said Pfannenstiel. “That also necessitates that we change how we’re educating and what the choices are so that the degree is both relevant and instructive. It changes the instruction, but it opens up who’s included.”
Online or in-person, her dedication shines through to her students and advisees, such as Millersville senior Rachel Gordon.
“I really like how she’s passionate about writing and gaming, and how she’s always willing to help,” said Gordon. “She’s just kindhearted.”
Pfannenstiel’s value for individual experiences is both inspiring and empowering. She knows what it means to celebrate each person’s unique path.
Individuality and uniqueness are both pillars of intersectional feminism, a topic timely to Women’s History month. Discussing what intersectional feminism means to her, she highlights: “It’s that we listen to the experiences of others. We consider the situation of others and recognize that those differences can have massive impacts on what you do and don’t have access to, what doors are open to you,” she added. “We can open more doors if we recognize that, work to break down some of those barriers or celebrate others, or invite new voices in.”
Listening is key. Pfannenstiel cited the importance of rhetorical listening, a concept developed by Dr. Jacqueline Jones Royster, who is the author of works such as “When the First Voice You Hear is Not Your Own (1996) and Feminist Rhetorical Practices (2012).
Pfannenstiel herself is also an author on topics within her multiple disciplines. She completed her undergraduate studies at Northern Arizona University with two degrees: A Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations as well as a minor in biology. She then went on to Arizona state to complete her Master’s in English and her Ph.D. in Rhetoric, Composition, and Linguistics.
In her research now, she focuses on casual games and casual gameplay. She draws comparisons between games and how students complete assignments, such as working on a task for a certain amount of time and taking breaks in between. This connects back to the #DrPGame, and its positive response from students who can choose to ‘play’ and score some extra points.
To expand the inclusivity of the game, she plans to further implement it into her future classes. “I want to roll it out so that the fun choices exist more in the required curriculum,” she said.
If you ever have the chance to take a class with Dr. P, you will surely level up your skills as a learner.