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Excellence in Teaching 2023 – Ellen Meier

August 3, 2023

When Assistant Professor Ellen Meier, psychology, learned of her selection as a 2023 recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award, her first thought was to analyze what is working well and evaluate ways to continue to improve her courses for this summer and fall. 

She teaches Health Psychology in the summer session and four other courses during the academic year. Meier’s goal each semester is for her students to get as much real-world application as possible from her courses.  

Ellen Meier, Excellence in Teaching Award
Assistant Professor Ellen Meier, psychology, won a 2023 Excellence in Teaching Award.

In PSYC 402 Practicum in Counseling and Psychotherapy, students record their counseling session practice and receive constructive feedback from their peers. Although anxiety-provoking at first, Meier explained that the students value the supportive environment in her course and thrive from their peer insights, making their reflective listening skills even stronger. 

“I often have so many students volunteering to show recorded sessions in class that we run out of time,” said Meier. “They practice really building a relationship and establishing trust and empathy with a client.” 

Their practice helps students to position themselves to take full advantage of career opportunities if, like Meier, they wish to work professionally in counseling. Meier works in private clinical practice and has been a Department of Psychology faculty member since 2018. She mentors students outside of the classroom in the School of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Health Behaviors and Substance Abuse Lab. Her recent clinical studies have investigated tobacco use behaviors and toxicant exposure from tobacco and cannabis co-use.  

Megan Jansen, a UWSP ‘22 graduate in psychology and biology, worked under Meier as a research assistant throughout her junior year. In her nomination letter for Meier’s teaching award, Jansen emphasized the positive impact of her teaching on her own personal and professional development. 

“The diverse and engaging learning environments she created transformed my ability to view situations from multiple perspectives,” said Jansen. “This not only deepened my understanding of the material but also equipped me with a valuable skill that I have continued to draw upon in my post-graduate career.”  

Jansen, a McFarland native, is employed as a crisis shelter advocate at Cap Services. She said regardless of the topic, when students were encouraged to share their ideas in classes, Meier fielded their responses in a supportive environment. 

Professor Erica Weisgram is a colleague in the Department of Psychology. She shared that high scores in student evaluations of Meier are consistently “remarkable,” whether she led the course in-person or fully online. She conducted a peer review last year of Meier’s teaching techniques.  

“Students remark about her high level of organization and responsiveness, intelligence and expertise in her field, compassion, enthusiasm, encouragement, and ability to create a safe and inclusive environment for learning,” said Weisgram. 

Meier welcomes the feedback of her peers and said some of her best modifications for her classroom instruction have come after meeting with senior faculty in the department. 

“I plan to continue utilizing both UWSP and outside teaching training and materials, learn from students’ performance and feedback, and adapt my teaching approaches,” said Meier. 

Outside of teaching and research, Meier enjoys spending time on the water, gardening, cooking and traveling.