Nursing professor wins national award

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11:29 a.m., May 13, 2010----Janice Selekman, professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Delaware, has been named the School Nurse Educator of the Year by the National Association of School Nurses. She was honored at the spring meeting of the Delaware School Nurse Association (DNSA) in Dover on May 6.

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Selekman has authored more than 100 papers and an award-winning textbook, School Nursing: A Comprehensive Text. She is also credited with contributing to the establishment of a school nurse certificate program in Delaware. Several years ago, she helped to craft a curriculum that focuses on the skills needed to be a school nurse, including screening, counseling, and caring for special-needs students.

Selekman is as passionate about teaching as she is about nursing. “When I see from the expression on a student's face that 'the light bulb' has gone on,” she says, “it's like a chocolate fix for me.”

That passion motivated Selekman to adopt a unique innovation in her UD graduate classes within the past two years.

“Several years ago,” she says, “we were mandated to start offering graduate courses online to make it convenient for working nurses to continue their education. But I wanted to do more than just post videotaped lectures on a website because that approach doesn't offer any ability to interact -- there's no option for students to pose on-the-spot questions or for me to explain something in a different way when needed. With videotaped material, students may hear the lecture without really understanding it.”

So Selekman partnered with Jann Sutton, program manager in Professional and Continuing Studies at UD, to take advantage of technology that is allowing her to teach a graduate course to a group of about 10 students live on campus while also accommodating an additional 20 students who are synchronously online and piped into the live classroom.

The approach is enabled by Wimba collaborative learning software, and Selekman is the first faculty member at UD to dovetail Wimba into a live classroom setting. She can see who is in attendance online and call on those students when they raise their hands with questions.

“This a unique approach that allows Prof. Selekman to optimize the teaching and learning environment for students with a variety of needs,” says Kathy Matt, dean of UD's College of Health Sciences. “The approach could easily be adapted to other courses -- it's not what she's teaching that's unique but how.”

Loretta Newsom, who earned her master's degree in nursing at UD in 1996 and is now president of DSNA, credits Selekman with empowering many of her students to be health care leaders. “I, for one, have achieved so much due to her professional influence,” she says.

Selekman received her bachelor's degree in nursing from the University of Pittsburgh and her master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. She has worked as a pediatric staff nurse, clinical nurse specialist, and pediatric nursing educator. Selekman joined the UD faculty in 1991 and served as nursing chairperson for ten years. She has won numerous awards for outstanding teaching.

She speaks throughout the country on school health, children with chronic conditions, adolescent high-risk behaviors, and learning disabilities. Selekman is on the editorial board of Pediatric Nursing and is the past vice president of the Society of Pediatric Nursing.

Article by Diane Kukich

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