My research interests focus on the intersection of media literacy education, critical pedagogy, and neoliberal ideologies. I take a critical cultural approach to understanding media phenomena with attention to political economy of media. I'm excited to fuse this orientation into my critical media literacy education research.

Children’s television and film are at the core of my previous research. I have a forthcoming book chapter that examines social aggression on Disney Channel tween programming and one on using journalistic writing to support advocacy and social justice pedagogy. 

I have presented research that examines class representation of fat kids in children’s films, proposes a new framework for understanding cultural hybridity through markets, and advocated for using critical research methods in undergraduate rhetoric classes. This year I will present papers on using pop culture in media history to teach media literacy, the influence of journalistic learning on Latina students' writing experiences, and a workshop on media literacy in the context of the 2020 election.

Currently, I work as a graduate graduate research with PIs Dr. Ed MadisonDr. Jenefer Husman, Dr. Matthew Kim, and Dr. Ross Anderson on "My STEM Story," a National Science Foundation grant-funded study that examines the impact of digital storytelling on student motivation using Osyerman's theory of identity-based motivation. 


With Dr. Madison, I also work as a graduate association for the Journalistic Learning Initiative.

I worked with Dr. Hollie Smith on science communication. We researched participant experiences at an inclusive science communication symposium. I performed the qualitative data analysis and our article was published in Frontiers in Communication.  We also studied science communication in the National Park System; this research was presented at NCA 2018 and is a forthcoming technical report. 

I was a visiting instructor in Rhetoric at the University of Iowa and online graduate instruction for Johns Hopkins University School of Education. Prior to that, I worked with Teach For America-Baltimore where I earned my elementary teaching certificate. I taught fourth grade in Prince Georges County Public Schools, and fifth and sixth grade in Baltimore City Public Schools. I continue to be strongly invested and vocal in pro-public education reform and labor rights.

Doctoral Student,
Media Studies
School of Journalism and Communication


Graduate Employee (Teaching Assistant, Research Assistant)

Master of Arts,
Media Studies
College of Communications


Thesis: "Li'l Fatties: A Textual Analysis of Gender, Race, and Class Identity Portrayals of Overweight and Obese Children in Popular Children's Films" (2011)

Bachelor of Arts,
Media Studies
Sociology Minor
Schreyer Honors College
College of Communications

With honors

With highest distinction

Student Marshal for Media Studies

Thesis: "Alienating the Audience: A Political Economy and Textual Analysis of Media Education Foundation Films" (2009)


Please see my updated

curriculum vitae.


After completing my master’s degree, I joined Teach for America and was placed in Baltimore City Public Schools. From this experience, I learned valuable lessons that I carry with me today. These lessons, along with my academic research in critical pedagogy, shape my understanding of equity and inclusion of diversity.


At the core of this is the necessity to listen.  This means taking time to get to know students, understanding who they are and where they come from, and respecting and embracing their individuality. It is also important to listen to what is unspoken; diversity does not only include visible and salient identifiers, such as race and gender, but age, nationality, sexual orientation, and more. Working to honor these differences as meaningful experiences that exist as part of students’ truths is necessary in listening and finding equity and inclusion for all.


In addition to listening to students, I work to engage students in the co-creation of and participation in our learning space. In the spirit of Paulo Freire, I approach my students as student-teachers who have experiences, knowledge, and understanding to bring into our site of knowledge-building. I strive to embrace and include diverse voices in my classroom by selecting texts that demonstrate theories, perspectives, and opinions from authors with varied backgrounds: texts allow us to engage with voices that reach beyond our own experiences. I also work to employ a variety of teaching methods to access different learning styles and support differently-abled learners, allowing students think differently in their connections with class materials.


Different perspectives, philosophies, and lived experiences all contribute to a richer, more complete education. The presence of diversity alone, though, is incomplete without inclusion. Diverse voices need to be actively included in conversations, decisions, and growth within the university community. Diversity is important at all levels of my practice, and I look forward to further opportunities to incorporate this into my teaching, research, and service. With this understanding, I hope to create an enriched environment that allows all students (and me) to learn, grow, and achieve.


“Leaders who do not act dialogically, but insist on imposing their decisions, do not organize the people--they manipulate them. They do not liberate, nor are they liberated: they oppress.” – Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed


Teaching Goals

When students leave my classroom at the conclusion of a course, I hope together we have accomplished three goals. First, students should be able to apply course concepts to real world situations. While I truly believe in learning for learning’s sake, I understand the market pressures on students to secure employment after graduation. If students cannot apply material in useful ways to their real lives, then my teaching is incomplete. Second, students should improve their critical thinking skills. In a quickly evolving digital world, students need to think through problems, consider multiple angles, and take various perspectives for success in the field of communication. Third, students should develop and strengthen their communication skills, both written and spoken. To be successful contributors in professional and personal pursuits, articulating thoughts in a manner that others can understand is essential. These goals transcend course content and are central to my teaching practice.


Teaching Methods

It is crucial to incorporate teaching methods that nurture development as critical thinkers and communicators. I base my teaching approach on Freire’s critical pedagogy, recognizing all student bring expertise to the classroom and all contribute to knowledge-building. My preferred methods are small groups discussions, large group discussions, and self-directed learning projects. Small group gallery walks allow reserved students to engage in discussion without the pressure of an entire class listening as they share their insights. Large group Socratic seminars prompt students think critically to develop questions and then communicate their responses during the discussion. Finally, self-directed learning projects for research and speeches support learning skills while simultaneously allowing students freedom to meet their personal interests and academic needs.


Learning Environment

Having an accessible, inclusive, and open learning environment is essential. Students need space for creation: creating new ideas, developing perspectives, forging connections to outside areas, building relationships, crafting questions, designing projects. A fundamental component of academic growth is the ability to ask questions and question material through disagreements and discussion. I remind my students that often we need to vocalize our thoughts to understand what we think, so we must proceed with a spirit of generosity and understanding for clumsy words in courageous conversations. This leads to students feeling respected and open to the vulnerability that is necessary for growth and learning.


Professional Self-Reflection

I strive to recognize areas in which my practice as an educator can be improved. Using surveys throughout the term, I work to understand the students’ needs and fill in existing gaps. Reflection on lesson plans after implementing them helps me to improve for future lessons. Additionally, in all stages of my teaching career, I have attended professional development to learn best practices, new methods, and to implement in the classroom. By learning from others, I can better my practice and improve my students’ educations.


Student Evaluations

"Couldn't have asked for a better Rhetoric teacher. I was very nervous going into this class but she made it very fun and interesting to learn about Rhetoric."

-Anonymous, University of Iowa, Spring 2016

"Rachel is very helpful and she encourages everyone to participate during discussions. I also like how the class was very interactive and easy-going. The class itself really made students understand different perspective of people."

-Anonymous, University of Iowa, Spring 2016

"I feel that rhetoric is definitely a challenge for a lot of people and I’ve heard many complaining about their rhetoric professors, but not from our class! The fact that you’re so real removes most of the stress. I love how the class became open-minded to being conversational and understanding that other people have conflicting opinions and still respected other perspectives and built off of them without argument. I've enjoyed the flow of group discussions so much, I don’t know if I can expect other discussion classes to be as worthwhile and intelligent! I feel that I’ve improved most out of this class than any other at Iowa. [...] Rachel, you’re an excellent person and professor! Keep it up with being awesome and making rhetoric more enjoyable! Wishing you the best in everything ahead."

-Anonymous, University of Iowa, Spring 2016

"You are one of the best professors I have ever known. I learned a handful of skills from your class. You did a great job this semester. I enjoyed becoming your student. Thank you." 

-Anonymous, University of Iowa, Fall 2015

"My instructor is very approachable. I am able to talk to her about concerns or why I wasn't able to attend class. I felt that my voice would, in most circumstances, be heard in the classroom and she kept an open mind to my responses even if
she hadn't thought of them herself."

- Anonymous, University of Iowa, Fall 2015

"My instructor is very good at getting the attention of everyone in class, and providing opportunities to allow everyone to speak about a topic we bring up if they so wish. She also makes sure absolutely everyone speaks up during the week at least a couple of times."

- Anonymous, University of Iowa, Fall 2015

"Rachel's comments were always helpful. Always clear and straight to the point. I appreciated how fast we got feedback on our work."

- Anonymous, University of Iowa, Fall 2015

Sample Lecture

Please check back soon to see a sample lecture.


2018 by Rachel Guldin

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