Jen Weaver is excited to join the Department of Occupational Therapy at Colorado State University as an assistant professor following a work history in inpatient rehabilitation and a Ph.D. in translational health sciences. Learn more about her past research projects and teaching principles below.
1. What brought you to the Department of Occupational Therapy at CSU?
I was drawn to the Department of Occupational Therapy at CSU because of the beautiful terrain as well as the esteemed faculty and students. The occupational therapy department has expertise in health services research, Rasch measurement theory, and neuroscience, which aligns with my personal research interests. I wanted to be part of a team that I felt could provide collaborations and continued support for research.
Additionally, the CSU OT department is a highly ranked program and that reflects both the faculty and the students of the program. I am excited to contribute to our students’ successes, learn from our students’ experiences, and advance the next generation of occupational therapy practitioners and scholars.
2. What are your research interests, and how did you get interested in that topic?
My occupational therapy background includes a work history in post-acute care, specifically inpatient rehabilitation services. Inpatient rehabilitation provides a minimum of three hours of therapy a day, five days a week to patients in the hospital. The patients I typically worked with were survivors of a stroke or traumatic brain injury and received intensive therapy in a post-acute setting with the goal of returning to the community. When I worked with patients that were unconscious it was critical for me to use a clinician-reported outcome measure to demonstrate the patient’s progress. Patients in disordered states of consciousness fluctuate in their behavioral responses to stimuli, and I needed to learn how we could improve outcome measures for this population so that we can advocate for continued rehabilitation services.
Therefore, I transitioned from clinical practice to pursue a Ph.D. in translational health sciences at George Washington University. During my Ph.D., I learned Rasch Analysis, which transforms ordinal raw scores from the clinician-reported outcome measures into equal interval measures. Equal-interval measures enable a better understanding of treatment effectiveness. My first goal is to create better measures for rehabilitation services and my long-term goal is to translate better measurement into clinical practice using person-centered measurement and user-centered design principles.
3. What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe in using adult learning principles, such as active learning strategies and case-based learning approaches. My approach aligns with the CSU Department of Occupational Therapy in that they focus on recitations where students work together on applying knowledge. I also believe strongly in demonstrating integrity when teaching. This means that I want students to connect with the material and I can bring real-world examples from my time spent in practice to foster connections with the course material.
In addition, if a student asks a question and I do not know the answer I am comfortable sharing this and I will do some research to bring an answer to the next class. An element of teaching is demonstrating that all of us are constantly learning together.
4. What is your favorite thing about campus?
I am still exploring campus. One weekend I rode my bike from my home to campus so I could see areas that are not as close to the Oval. Right now, I love walking past the Occupational Therapy Garden on my way to the OT Building, seeing students gather around the Oval and at the Lory Student Center. For now, my favorite thing about campus is not a place, but how warm and welcoming everyone has been as I learn to navigate new spaces and systems.