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Jenifer Thomas Wins 2017 CHS Innovation in Teaching Award

Dr. Jenifer ThomasSpecial Kudos

"In my eleven years of full-time academic work," states a colleague, "I have not met a more fluid, flexible and dynamic health sciences educator. Dr. Thomas is a blessing to the lives of our students in the College of Health Sciences."

Her nominator states, "Dr. Thomas' innovative approaches to teaching health behavior change to the DNP students and research skills to undergraduate students in the CHS, as well as her over-all clear, student-centered organizational approach, have made her an effective and beloved teacher in the School of Nursing."

Innovative Teaching Approaches

Innovation in motivational interviewing and therapy

Dr. Jenifer Thomas began teaching at the Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing (FWWSON) in the fall of 2010, with the primary charge of creating health behavior change courses for the UW Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) students. Since the DNP program is delivered primarily online through asynchronous courses with weekly synchronous conferences, Dr. Thomas developed an innovative way for students to practice techniques (such as motivational interviewing and acceptance and commitment therapy) by using webcams and headset/microphones. Students work in small groups of two or three to practice techniques via role-modeling, where one student is the patient and the other is the nurse practitioner. A third student would serve as an observer and provide constructive feedback.

Innovational approach to teaching: student-led case studies

Another example of an innovative approach to teaching is her development of a student-led case studies assignment. Students take turns creating a realistic patient case and developing theory-based application questions for their peers to discuss. In addition, each week's student case creator also moderates the discussion for the week. This reinforces student participation and learning in a way that is new and exciting for instructor-led cases and discussions.

Innovation through the Thomas Research Lab

An additional innovative teaching approach developed and employed by Dr. Thomas has been the creation of the "Thomas Research Lab" with undergraduate students from different departments in the College of Health Sciences. "To say that the 'Thomas Research Lab' has been a success is an understatement!" shares a nominator. "Thomas has to hold interviews for slots in her coveted lab!" Students who participate in Dr. Thomas' lab help with Thomas' research while also conducting their own independent research projects. Students have the opportunity to present their research findings at the Western Institute of Nursing's annual meeting.

"More importantly," says a nominator, "with Dr. Thomas' role modeling and encouragement, students learn that research is fun and exciting." One of her student team says, "Dr. Thomas not only has allowed us to become part of her research, but has also been a role model to the students that she has selected. She has taken each of us in and has helped us through the research process, and has allowed each of us to take on independent roles in the writing process and help guide where the team goes next."  Another students says, "Each of us has been able to work with other students of different disciplines and has developed a love of research."

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Article posted 5/5/2017



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