Lori Simons

Lori Simons, PhD, LPC, CCDP-D, CAC-D

  • Practicum and Internship Coordinator of Psychology Department
  • Professor
Media Expertise:
  • Psychology & Mental Health

Programs I Teach

Education

  • PhD, Educational Psychology (2001)
    Temple University (PA)
  • MS, Experimental Psychology (1994)
    St. Joseph's University (PA)
  • BA, Psychology (1991)
    Neumann University (PA)

About Me

As an educational psychologist, I believe that a liberal arts education is paramount for empowering students to think critically about the conditions that lead to racial, economic, and social disparities and develop into productive citizens that challenge the practices that perpetuate inequality in society. It is the role of the instructor to facilitate learning through shared responsibility of knowledge acquisition with students in and out of class.

The process of shared responsibility in teaching and learning involves a continual assessment of what students, as active participants, bring into the classroom, the curriculum and the pedagogical process through which the content is delivered, and what and how students learn. One approach I use to promote student learning is to understand the prerequisite skills and cultural characteristics of the students in my courses. It is critical for me to be acquainted with students so that I can develop a frame of reference for the way they think and learn. I match their diverse developmental levels and learning styles with pedagogical methods so they acquire specific knowledge and skills by the end of the course. For instance, in Educational Psychology, I require students to participate in service-learning so they have a broader understanding of the implications from the No Child Left Behind Law on achievement testing in an urban school district. A core aspect in this teaching approach is the value I place on student thinking and learning. Maslow refers to peak experiences as meaningful experiences in which individuals transcend one's view of the self. Through the use of service-learning, I have been afforded unique opportunities to observe how my students learn beyond the classroom, and I refer to these situations as peak experiences.

Research Interests

As an educational psychologist, I believe that research is an integral part of the study of teaching and learning. Research is meaningful when it is used to improve teaching strategies and student learning. My research approach is rooted in a continual assessment of student learning using a feedback loop for ongoing improvement. I use quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative methods are used to measure changes in student learning from the beginning to the end of the course while qualitative methods are used to detect information about the learning process that occurs in the course and service context. Qualitative data are used to refine, explain, and extend quantitative findings. The use of this mixed-method approach contributes to a deeper, more complete understanding of student development and learning.

My research agenda is divided into two broad areas: pedagogical scholarship and program evaluation. In the area of pedagogical scholarship, my work has focused on the impact of academic- and cultural-based service-learning on student learning and to evaluate the contributions that student service activities make in the community. I also include community partners in the development and implementation phases of assessment. In this context research serves a dual purpose. It enhances the educational experiences of students and enriches students' contributions to the community. Assessment efforts are used to refine pedagogical methods and to most effectively tailor teaching practices to both students' and partners' needs.

In the area of program evaluation, I have worked with organizations and programs to evaluate the effectiveness of community interventions and make recommendations for improvement. In a recent study, I assessed addiction professionals' views in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Certification Board. I devote my research efforts on projects that have value for undergraduate students and community partners. My recent work with community partners, as well as my scholarship on service-learning cultivates a climate of student engagement in research among students who collaborate with me on research. This is particularly important to me because it provides students with an opportunity to put their knowledge of psychological research into practice and strengthens the university-community partnership.

Publications

  • Simons, L., Fehr, L., Blank, N., Fernandez, D., Georganas, D., Padro, J., & Peterson, V. (2013). A comparative analysis of experiential education and student development: Does the type of service matter?. World Journal of Education, 3(3), 63–74.
  • Simons, L., Fehr, L., Blank, N., Connell, H., Fernandez, D., Georganas, D., Padro, J., & Peterson, V. (2012). Lessons learned from experiential learning: What do students learn from a practicum/internship. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 24(3), 325–334.
  • Simons, L., Fehr, L., Blank, N., Hogerwerff, F., Georganas, D., & Russell, B. (2011). The application of the racial identity development in academic-based service-learning. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 23(1), 72–83.

Professional Affiliations & Memberships

APA/Division 2, PCB, American Counseling Association (ACA), International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement (IARSLCE)

Awards

  • CASE's Professor of the Year Award Nominee, 2013
  • Widener University, Faculty Award for Civic Engagement, 2012
  • Arts and Sciences Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2008