Jennifer Webb, associate professor in the Department of Psychological Science, is this year’s recipient of the Bonnie E. Cone Early-Career Professorship in Teaching. Provost Joan Lorden announced the honor at University Convocation, Thursday, Aug. 17.
Webb’s approach to teaching has been described as compassionate rigor. As a course instructor, research mentor and academic advisor, Webb engages students with respect, fairness and authenticity that reflects her positive psychology value orientation. This holistic approach to teaching and instruction asserts that it is essential to establish a core foundation of trust, care and respect for diversity that naturally gives rise to a more optimal working relationship with students. Using this approach, Webb combines experiential ingredients including community engagement, social justice and advocacy themes to encourage students to bridge their personal educational goals with the desire to make a positive impact in the society.
Students should experience interdisciplinary approaches to the topics at hand that serve to bolster their overall scientific literacy and multicultural inclusiveness in their thinking, research and action, according to Webb. For her, the classroom is a space for collective wisdom to dynamically unfold through lively exchanges in which participants can comfortably debate the merits of multiple sides of an issue.
Since arriving at UNC Charlotte in 2007, Webb has taught Health Psychology, Introduction to Positive Psychology, Advanced Topics in Positive Psychology and Introduction to Clinical Psychology at the undergraduate level, and both Health Psychology and Diversity at the graduate level. She has developed new courses for the undergraduate psychology curriculum including Introduction to Positive Psychology, Weight Stigma and Weight Acceptance and Psychology of Sport and Exercise.
Her research lab attracts a large number of students, and she has published 12 peer-reviewed articles and a book chapter with student co-authors. She has chaired or co-chaired six undergraduate honors theses, five masters’ theses and two Health Psychology Ph.D. dissertations. She also has supervised three undergraduate research projects as part of the Charlotte Research Scholars Program and has mentored an Active Minds Emerging Scholar Fellow from Dickinson College. Her mentoring extends into the Charlotte community as the faculty supervisor for the Beautiful Girls Program, a self-esteem enhancement program in local urban middle schools.
According to Lori Van Wallendael, associate chair of the Department of Psychological Science, Webb “strives to engage students with her passion for her subject matter. Her classroom is known for lively debates about ideas, integration of documentaries and other media excerpts and student projects focusing on social justice and community engagement.” In 2010, Webb’s students nominated her for the UNC Charlotte Magical Mentor Award.
The Bonnie E. Cone Early-Career Professorship in Teaching was established in 2006 and is annually bestowed to a member of the faculty who has been awarded tenure within the last three years. The appointment is for a three-year term.