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Mary Pat Wenderoth wins 2019 Claude Bernard Distinguished Lectureship Award

Tuesday, March 19, 2019 - 11:15

*Original article by Mel Kottenbelt at ADInstruments

Congratulations to Dr. Mary Pat Wenderoth, who has received the 2019 Claude bernard Distinguished Lectureship Award!

This award recognizes an established investigator with a history of excellence in education, who is making outstanding contributions to teaching and learning.

Mary Pat has been described by colleagues as a “wonderful, high energy person” who is always willing to help others and is “fully deserving of this award”. She is a prominent leader within her discipline, receiving numerous awards such as the Outstanding Teaching Award (2007), UW professor of the year (2007) and Advisor of the Year (2008). 

Mary Pat has been a lecturer at the University of Washington for around 30 years - so it’s safe to say she is a bit of a pro when it comes to teaching. After completing her Ph.D. in Physiology at Rush University, she took up a postdoctoral fellow and research scientist position looking at muscle creatine kinase gene regulation and muscle differentiation. Despite her passion for research, her interest in education is what eventually led her to a teaching position at the University of Washington in the Zoology department before moving to Biology, where she teaches today. 

Now, Mary Pat’s research primarily focuses on how to help students learn Biology. She does this by using evidence based, active learning techniques in the classroom. A study in 2001 by the National Research Council on ‘How people learn’ highlighted 3 main areas which are critical to student learning:

  • Confronting common misconceptions students have about the discipline
  • Creating a framework to organize facts
  • Enhancing student metacognition 

In order to address these areas within her teaching, Mary Pat has integrated the use of General Models (GMs) into all her classes. The purpose of GMs is to make students realize that the same basic principles apply to many physiological processes. Through her own research she has shown that when students correctly use GMs when answering exam questions, they tend to provide more robust exam answers, earning themselves a better grade. She also gets her students to create weekly summary sheets involving a pictorial form of concept map. This gives students a deeper understanding of how various parts of the physiological system are connected.

Metacognition is an interesting concept where students are encouraged to reflect on their own learning. With this, they can develop self-awareness skills that will be of benefit throughout their adult life. In simple terms, metacognition is ‘thinking about one’s thinking’. Mary Pat nurtures this amongst her students by getting them to complete weekly reflective paragraphs on what they have learned (not memorized) each week and relate what they have learned in class to processes in the outside world.

This is only the tip of the iceberg for the many contributions that Mary Pat has made to physiology and biology education literature. She has dedicated thousands of hours of her time to helping not only her students, but her fellow educators as well, leaving us with no doubt in our minds that she is a well deserving recipient of the Claude Bernard Distinguished Lectureship Award! The award will be presented to Mary Pat at the APS annual Experimental Biology (EB) meeting in April and includes a $1000 honorarium, plus registration and travel reimbursement to attend EB.

Read the original article by Mel Kottenbelt on ADInstruments.

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