Widener University Honors Faculty for Teaching Innovation, Research and Civic Engagement

awards

Widener University on Thursday honored the top faculty in the areas of teaching innovation, research, and civic engagement at its annual Faculty Awards Banquet.

Associate Professor Anne Krouse of the School of Nursing, Professor Barbara Patterson of the School of Nursing, and Associate Professor Lori Simons of the College of Arts and Sciences garnered top honors at the event coordinated by the Office of Teaching, Learning and Assessment.

Dr. Krouse, a resident of Ventnor, N.J., received the Fitz Dixon Innovation in Teaching Award, which recognizes a faculty member who has designed and implemented an innovation or experimental teaching or learning project. Dr. Joy Dickerson, associate professor in the School of Hospitality Management; Dr. Donald Dyson, associate professor in the School of Human Service Professions; Dr. Rebecca Jones, associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences; Dr. Dennis Laker, associate professor in the School of Business Administration; and Dr. Mark Nicosia, associate professor in the School of Engineering, were honored as nominees.

Dr. Krouse was honored for an honors seminar she designed to give nursing students the opportunity to explore health policy development with attention to their future role as advocates for their profession and their clients.

In the course, Health Policy: A Nursing Perspective, students learn about how health policy is developed at the local, state and federal levels. Students select a health policy issue and develop a policy analysis paper and an advocacy plan on that issue.

Students make appointments with their federal representatives in Congress and advocate for their policy during visits to Washington, D.C. They also visit lobbyists from the American Nurses Association to learn more about their role in health policy. As a result, students gain real experience as health policy advocates, something very few practicing nurses have ever done.

Dr. Patterson, a resident of Vorhees, N.J., received the Outstanding Researcher Award, which recognizes a faculty member who is acknowledged nationally for his/her research and scholarship, quality of scholarly work, contribution to the profession/discipline and contribution to promoting the university’s mission and vision. Dr. Kenneth Goldberg, associate professor in the School of Human Service Professions; Dr. Zhongping Huang, associate professor in the School of Engineering; Dr. Lori Simons, associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences; and Kenn Tacchino, professor in the School of Business Administration, were honored as nominees.

Dr. Patterson has made significant contributions to her profession through her work on the use of evidence in adopting and modifying teaching methodologies. She has been at the forefront of research efforts to examine the impact of innovative teaching strategies, such as the use of student response systems and active learning strategies on student learning outcomes. She has also investigated the evidence nursing faculty use in their teaching practice and has developed an instrument for assessing faculty’s use of evidence in modifying their teaching.

Dr. Patterson is also pursuing research on the learning outcomes associated with distance education and published an empirical study with colleagues from the National League of Nursing on the review process used in the league’s nursing education research grant program. In 2011, she was appointed to the highly prestigious Academy of Nurse Educator Fellows for her research and leadership contributions to nursing education.

Dr. Simons, a resident of Glen Mills, Pa., received the Faculty Award for Civic Engagement which recognizes a faculty member’s contributions to Widener’s civic engagement mission, especially the contribution to students’ understanding of their social responsibilities, and the impact of their disciplinary learning in a particular program involving community constituencies. The winner of the award is selected from the finalists for the Fitz Dixon Innovation in Teaching Award and the Outstanding Researcher Award. Dr. Goldberg and Dr. Jones were honored as nominees.

Dr. Simons has developed and evaluated an academic-based, service-learning program with the Chester Upland School District since 2003. She cultivated a relationship with the district, developed service activities that assisted the teachers, and designed reflection assignments so students could connect the service context to the course content. Assessment of students’ attitudes and skills showed their improved understanding of educational inequities associated with an urban public school system and an increase in their interest in working with diverse clients.

In addition to 19 research reports at national and international conferences and a cumulative record of 14 peer-reviewed publications on service-learning, Dr. Simons has received external funding to support her efforts from Project Pericles, the Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development, the Department of Public House Workforce Development Initiative, the Philadelphia Foundation and the Covenant Fund. The external support from community partner projects was used to support undergraduate students who served as research assistants on these projects so they could acquire a deeper understanding of civic engagement.

Applications of all three awards were reviewed by an external panel including Peter M. Donohue, president of Villanova University; Kevin Kecskes, associate vice provost for engagement an director of community-university partnerships at Portland State University; and Roger Norton, associate professor and dean of the School of Computer Science and Mathematics at Marist College.  

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener comprises eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate’s, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university’s campuses in Chester, Exton, and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., serve some 6,600 students. Visit the university website, www.widener.edu.

 

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