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Family Man

Dr. Scott Jensen, Psychology
2009/2010 Winner of the Corson Award for the Distinguished Teaching of Freshmen

Colleagues and students alike find Dr. Jensen intelligent, supportive and approachable. Freshmen students in particular find him amazing. So it is no surprise that he was selected for the Corson Award, which is given each year to one faculty member in the College of the Pacific who has distinguished himself or herself in the teaching of freshmen students. Dr. Jensen has proven exceptional in this regard.

The Teacher

Dr. Scott JensenDr. Jensen teaches Introduction to Psychology (PSYC 31), a large class of about 120 students, of which half are freshmen. In these larger introductory courses, professors tend to get lower ratings from student evaluations because it’s more difficult to establish a personal rapport. But Dr. Jensen is rated as highly in these classes as he is in smaller ones. One of the reasons is the way he strives to connect with the students.

"He makes the material interesting and explains it in a way that is easy to understand," commented a former student. "He also tries to memorize everyone's names in class, even the large lectures, which I have never seen any other teacher do."

He often posts photos of students on his bulletin board, so he can learn to recognize them. Other courses where he teaches a significant number of freshmen are Pacific Seminar 2 and PSYC 111 (Abnormal Psychology).

The Mentor

Dr. Jensen with one of his six children.

Dr. Jensen with one of his six children.

Dr. Jensen is also adept at sparking the intellectual curiosity of freshmen students outside the classroom. His research interests include parent training, parenting efficacy, disruptive behavior disorders, and psychological testing and assessment. (With six children of his own, he has plenty of first-hand experience in parenting!)

Whereas some faculty prefer to work with more mature undergraduates, Dr. Jensen actively recruits freshmen to work with him on his parenting research projects. Students help conduct parent training and child socialization groups, collect data, and assist with literature review and writing up results for manuscripts or conference presentations.

He has by far the largest student research team in the Psychology Department—about 15 to 20 students—and many of them are freshmen, which means they can remain involved for a few years at Pacific and acquire an unusually in-depth research experience for an undergraduate.

The Innovator

Dr. Jensen embraces innovation in his teaching. For example, he participated in an iPod initiative with Assistant Provost Jace Hargis of the Center for Teaching and Learning that allowed students to record questions after class that they might not have felt comfortable asking in a large lecture setting. This exemplifies how Dr. Jensen makes himself as accessible as possible to students and is sensitive to their needs.

He also pursued and won a grant that allows the department to digitally record current television shows for classroom education, and he recently adopted the use of clickers, which his students have responded to favorably.

The Scholar

In addition to taking an active role in department and university activities, Dr. Jensen is an active scholar who has co-authored 10 peer-reviewed publications and delivered more than 20 presentations at professional meetings.

Students and colleagues share their regard for Dr. Jensen:

"Scott Jensen is one of those rare individuals that embody the academic qualities of intelligence, motivation, drive, and success in combination with the human qualities of humor, caring, warmth, and a wonderful interpersonal style."

-Dr. Carolynn Kohn

"Dr. Jensen made my freshman year very positive because he was friendly and made me feel very comfortable asking him for help. I would leave class in a good mood and feeling like I had a good understanding of the material."

-Student

"It really meant a lot to me that Dr. Jensen thought I could handle being on a research team as a freshman. He went out of this way to make sure that I felt welcome and that I was contributing to the team."

-Student

"One of Dr. Jensen's strengths is engaging students through humor. There was definitely never a dull moment in his classroom."

-Student

"Dr. Jensen is by far the best and friendliest teacher I have ever had."

-Student