Junior Faculty Spotlight: Susan Douglas
I have been in a teaching role at Vanderbilt University since 2014. I started as a part-time assistant professor of the practice in the Psychology and Human Development department from 2014 to 2017 and transitioned to a full-time position when I joined the Leadership, Policy and Organizations department in 2017. In addition to teaching at the undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral levels, I also direct the master’s program in Leadership and Organizational Performance.
My approach to teaching and mentoring students is informed by my experience collaborating with researchers, leaders, and practitioners to use training and feedback interventions to improve health and behavioral health care by supporting clinical decision-making and client-centered communication. Specifically, I believe that great teaching can happen through strong partnerships, meaningful linkages between theory and application, and providing actionable feedback.
First, to build strong partnerships, I believe we must be willing to be wrong, to take risks, and to experiment in order to connect with students. I also believe it is through those connections that we inspire and motivate students to not only engage with new concepts or theories, but also to grow in their own willingness to experiment, make mistakes, and learn from feedback.
Second, because successful innovation requires a strong background in theory, I want my students to be armed with both theory and skills to sustain their evidence-based practice after encountering the everyday realities of working in the professional world.
Third, I make frequent use of case-based examples and simulation through role plays, with the goal of creating opportunities for real-time feedback in the classroom. I ask my students to notice and reflect on not only their thoughts but also their feelings in relation to class content, to help them surface any potential limitations to their engagement with the material. I encourage them to stretch beyond a siloed understanding to integrate and synthesize information from a variety of sources and disciplines.
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