My research has explored the intersection of language, technology, qualitative research and learning. I am particularly interested in how computer-mediated environments impact how we communicate and how we learn. My methodological work looks at how conversation and discourse analysis methods can be used in a variety of online contexts.

A native Hoosier, I was the first in my family to graduate from college. After earning my undergraduate degree, I joined the Peace Corps and had my first teaching experience in Lesotho, Southern Africa. One of my favorite parts of the experience was learning to speak Sesotho and travelling to Swaziland, South Africa, Botswana, Madagascar and Zimbabwe. Upon my return to the States I taught English as a second language at Ohio University while studying applied linguistics and won the outstanding teaching assistant award. This early experience with language learning and teaching continues to influence my work today, laying the groundwork for my exploration of conversation and discourse analysis methodologies.

After earning my master’s degree, I worked as an intern with the English Language Center at Michigan State University, teaching academic English classes for international students. The Internet was becoming mainstream during this time, so I decided to go back to do my doctoral work to study the impact of online technologies on learning. I attended Indiana University as a Chancellor’s Fellow and studied instructional systems technology and computer-mediated communication. I helped launch some of IU’s first online courses and studied how students collaborate in these environments for my dissertation research. I graduated with my Ph.D. in 2003 and began my first faculty position at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville where I helped launch the online master’s program in instructional technology and designed the graduate certificate in qualitative research methods. These experiences piqued my curiosity in how new technologies are impacting qualitative research methods, so I co-authored Digital Tools in Qualitative Research (2014) to help map this terrain for other researchers. In 2014 I accepted a faculty position at the University of Georgia and began working with the online graduate certificate in interdisciplinary qualitative studies and the doctoral program in qualitative research and evaluation methodologies.

After work and on the weekends I live to be outdoors – especially gardening, hiking, backpacking and biking. I have served as an Appalachian Trail maintainer and am a founding member of Girls Outside, an organization dedicated to providing opportunities for girls to develop healthy outdoor hobbies. I also greatly enjoy international travel, having taught graduate courses in Macedonia for Indiana University and in Ecuador for the University of Alabama. I was recently a visiting scholar at the University of Tasmania and have visited every continent except Antarctica.

Learn more about Trena Paulus.

Trena Paulus
College of Education
River's Crossing
Athens, GA
Education: 
Ph.D., Indiana University