Schneider receives honorary degree in Finland

May 8, 2017

Michigan State University’s Barbara Schneider, a John A. Hannah University Distinguished Professor, will receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Helsinki this spring.

She is the only education scholar among more than 20 individuals from around the world being conferred with the honors this year by Finland’s oldest and largest higher education institution. Fellow recipients include German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Finland’s President Sauli Niinist√∂ and scientist Barry J. Hoffer, who has studied the neurobiology of drug addiction.

Honorary doctorates, granted in conjunction with the conferment of degrees, are the highest recognition universities can offer. The formal ceremony will be held on May 26, 2017.

Schneider’s selection in the behavioral sciences is based on her many contributions to understanding adolescent development and improving teaching and learning through research. A member of the National Academy of Education, she is known for her role in developing cutting-edge methods that measure learning experiences in real time.

Currently, she is studying the effects of teaching strategies designed to increase students’ engagement in learning science. Participants use smartphones to record how they are feeling during science class. The project is an international partnership between researchers at MSU and the University of Helsinki.

Another project led by Schneider has developed a model to promote college-going cultures in schools, with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

“[Finland is] facing a problem similar to what we face … We have to get young people interested in learning science and really stretch their imagination,” said Schneider. “I want to thank the University of Helsinki for giving me this honor. I certainly would not have been able to have this honor were it not for my exceptional colleagues who have been working with me and have stretched my imagination.

“We are developing an international professional community, which we hope will be exemplary for other universities that interface with other countries around the world.”