Dr. Jennifer Danridge Turner is Associate Professor in Reading Education at the University of Maryland, College Park. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with a specialization in Literacy from Michigan State University. Dr. Turner’s scholarship centers on two interrelated domains: a) Black youth futures, which amplifies the dreams (e.g., career aspirations, life goals, societal transformations) that Black youth determine for themselves despite societal barriers, structural inequalities, and personal obstacles; and (2) equity pedagogies, or literacy instructional approaches that celebrate Black youths' cultural knowledges and racialized identities while cultivating their freedom dreams/dreaming.
Dr. Turner's research projects have been funded through numerous grants, including the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Education Research Conference Award; the William T. Grant (Inaugural) Writing Fellowship; the Elva Knight Research Grant from the International Reading Association; the Global Awareness in Teacher Education (GATE) fellowship from the Longview Foundation/UMCP; and through the Maryland Institute for Minority and Urban Education (MIMAUE), the Graduate School, and the Qualitative Research Interest Group (QRIG)/Consortium on Race, Gender, and Ethnicity at the University of Maryland. Dr. Turner’s scholarship appears in leading academic journals, including Teachers College Record, Research in the Teaching of English, Race Ethnicity and Education, Journal of Negro Education, Action in Teacher Education, and Literacy. With a strong commitment to praxis, Dr. Turner also publishes in practitioner journals including Theory into Practice, The Reading Teacher, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, Language Arts, and English Teaching: Practice and Critique. Her book, Change is Gonna Come: Transforming Literacy Education for African American Students (with Patricia A. Edwards and Gwendolyn McMillon) won the 2011 Edward Fry Book Award from the Literacy Research Association.
Dr. Turner’s current line of research blends critical multimodal literacy and arts-based research methods to theorize and visualize the futurities of Black youth. In this work, she hosts "freedom dreaming sessions" where Black youth creatively compose drawings, digital collage, and photography to design their own futures, envisioning possible professional work, life goals, and racially-just societies. An example of a career dream drawing created by Jihanna (Pseudonym; age 10) appears below and in Dr. Turner's 2020 article "Freedom to Aspire: Black children's career dreams, aspirational supports, and Africentric values" in Race, Ethnicity, and Education.
Based on this research, Dr. Turner is serving as lead editor for a special entitled, "Race(ing) to Futurity: Black and Latinx youths’ multimodal compositions of future selves and literacies" for the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education. Expanding her arts-based research methods, Dr. Turner just completed a study of Black undergraduate students' COVID experiences through photography. In her classes, Dr. Turner draws upon her scholarship and engages arts-based pedagogical methods, which earned her a coveted Excellence in Teaching Award for Tenure-Track Faculty from the College of Education at the University of Maryland.
Dr. Turner is also very active in professional organizations. Dr. Turner is currently serving as the Awards Chair of the Social Semiotics in Education SIG (AERA) and as a member of the David Pearson Scholarly Impact Award Committee (Literacy Research Association) and is an outgoing department editor for Language Arts journal. She has served as a Chair of the Ethnicity, Race, and Multilingualism Committee; Area Chair; a member of the Nominations Committee; a member of the Oscar Causey Award committee; and as an elected member on the Board of Directors for the Literacy Research Association. She has served as an active member of the Publications Committee for the International Reading Association and was Co-Editor of the Literacy Leadership column for the Reading Teacher. Finally, Dr. Turner is an author and consulant on reading/literacy programs published by National Geographic School Publishing/Cengage.