2012 Romeo L. Moruzzi Young Faculty Award for Innovation in Undergraduate Education

Jeanine Skorinko

This year WPI is pleased to present the Romeo L. Moruzzi Young Faculty Award to Professor Jeanine Skorinko of the Social Science and Policy Studies Department, for innovations that have revitalized the undergraduate psychology program, placing empirical research at the core of student learning.

Driven by her belief that “learning is not a spectator sport,” Professor Skorinko’s innovative “research first, theory second” pedagogy characterizes learning opportunities for students inside and outside the classroom. In coursework, research often begins in the first class when students are challenged to systematically observe social phenomena naturally occurring in the world around them, and to form hypotheses and construct variables that can provide an experiential basis for later discussing research theory and practice in class. Mini-experiments are also routinely used in class to create excitement and set the stage for understanding psychological concepts and experience.

Outside class, the Social Science Participant Pool and the Social Psychology Inquiry Lab, developed and managed by Prof. Skorinko, provide research opportunities and assistantships not only to the rapidly growing number of WPI psychology majors but to any interested WPI student. The research first, learn-the-theory-as-you-go approach makes this open door policy possible, and the strong record of student publications, presentations and awards in major psychological research outlets attests to the efficacy of Professor Skorinko’ s innovations, as do accolades from students and colleagues:

“I learned more about statistics and research in this class than I did in previous courses that dealt only with statistics. . . the instruction is the best I’ve seen at this school.”

"There is no other psychology program in the country that I know of that teaches basic research methods and statistics in this way."

For her innovations in the teaching of psychology, and for continuing Romeo Moruzzi’s mission to combine theory and practice and to help technologists appreciate social complexity, we are proud to present the 2012 Romeo L. Moruzzi Young Faculty Award for Innovation in Undergraduate Education to Professor Jeanine Skorinko.