Check out this former PACE Lab member in the news! Congrats Chantal!

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Dr. Jennifer Gay Receives Two Teaching Awards during UGA’s Honors Week

Congratulations to Dr. Jennifer Gay, PACE Lab Director, for earning the University of Georgia Creative Teaching Award and the College of Public Health inaugural Online Teaching Award! From College of Public Health Dean, Dr. Marsha Davis on the Creative Teaching Award below.

One concrete example of Dr. Gay’s teaching innovation is her use of the specification grading approach. In this grading scheme, all the assignments in the class are graded as “Satisfactory/Competent” or “Needs More Work”. Assignments in the latter category may be revised based on the extensive feedback that Dr. Gay provides.  This means that there are no points, and each assignment carries the same weight.  It also means that students are encouraged to gain mastery of the concepts through revisions.  The students know exactly how many Satisfactory assignments they need to complete to get the final grade they want.  This novel approach gives students more control as they decide how many assignments to submit or revise.  It also encourages students to take responsibility for their learning and shifts the focus from points to meeting learning objectives. 

This grading scheme and the assignments in her classes are based in principles of inclusion, autonomy, and control following the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) Inclusive and Equitable Teaching Curriculum Crosswalk. Her general teaching style of engagement and inclusion follows these same principals. She meets students where they are, which is particularly important in a degree program where there is a wide range of background knowledge in public health. She does this by engaging with her students, in both her in-person and online courses.  She makes materials relatable to students, posting announcements with content-related examples from recent news stories, podcasts, or videos. For example, each course eLC homepage has a widget dedicated to recent, humorous news from science or public health outlets.  This keeps the material engaging, relevant, and timely. She also uses the eLC Awards feature, providing students with encouragement and awards throughout the semester.  

Dr. Gay is the first faculty member in the College of Public Health to earn the Creative Teaching Award!

But perhaps the feedback from students themselves speaks better than anything we as colleagues can detail.  Dr. Gay conducts her own end-of-term evaluations to assess the grading scheme and solicit feedback for improvement. Students reported that the way she structures her class reduces their stress (89%), provides more flexibility, (100%), and gives them more control compared to other courses (100%). Her qualitative feedback expands on this positive feedback. Below are just a few of her evaluation comments from Fall 2022: 

  • I felt that Dr. Gay focused on skill acquisition rather than simple knowledge building, and this is something I quite enjoyed and found useful at the graduate level. All the assignments we did felt like they had a purpose, and they were driven based on important course objectives. I enjoyed that we walked through every step of the research process in a way that encouraged questions and promoted learning from mistakes (as is done in real life). 
  • I thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Gay’s teaching style. She made me feel like she actually cared about me, my work, and whether or not I understood the material. She also emphasized the importance of diversity, which made me (a student of color) feel seen. 
  • I felt as though the grading system in this class was the best I have been exposed to. By allowing revisions, Dr. Gay provided us with an opportunity to revisit previous work and improve our grade instead of requiring mastery of the concepts at only one point in time or for one assignment. I felt as though I learned a lot more from the revision process, as Dr. Gay was consistently a massive help whenever I had questions and was happy to point me in the right direction if I was lost. I learned the most in this class, and I believe that is due to Dr. Gay’s grading structure incentivizing revisiting past concepts. 
  • She showed me what a caring and effective professor looks like! 

Dr. Gay also was recognized for her excellence in online teaching, earning the inaugural CPH Online Teaching Award. Here’s what Dean Davis said about Dr. Gay’s online teaching…

Her students agree that her innovation in teaching online content is what makes online learning exciting. “Unlike many of my other professors, Dr. Gay included weekly video presentations over the week’s topic along with supplemental videos, readings, and resources.” Jennie is available to her students, which is difficult in an online environment. “I have gained a better understanding in research methods and design and have also developed a strong interest in community nutrition interventions. While online learning has been difficult throughout the pandemic, Dr. Gay’s courses made online learning both effective and enjoyable.” Another, non-traditional student, wrote, “I can credit Professor Gay with simplifying the complex and igniting a desire to learn and know more about what the number(s) behind the analysis means.” 

Congratulations Dr. Gay on being an awesome teacher!

It’s National Park Week! Day 1 is ParkRx Day!

A picture of Dr. Gay, Director of the PACE Lab, at the Yosemite National Park  entrance sign in California.

It’s National Park Week in the US and the PACE Lab is celebrating all the amazing opportunities for physical activity, rest, rejuvenation, and learning! Did you know that Dr. Gay reviews the ParkRx program in her Public Health Physical Activity and Nutrition Interventions course? Students learn about the many health benefits of being active in nature and the efficacy of park prescription programs. Check out the National Park Service’s website for more information about National Park Week!

PACE Lab member, Meredith Wessel, presents at the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities symposium

Meredith Wessel presented her semester-long project on Job Demands and the Impact on General Health. She found that workers who have more control and autonomy at work reported slightly worse general health than workers with less control and autonomy. How interesting! Meredith is an undergraduate honors student in the Health Promotion and Behavior department, and has been a PACE Lab member for almost two years. Congratulations on this achievement!

PACE Lab Alum Chantal LaFlamme Has Paper Published

Congratulations to PACE Lab alum Chantal LaFlamme and Director Dr. Jennifer Gay for having their study, Psychological Aspects of Stair Use: A Systematic Review, published in the current issue of the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine! This was a collaborative effort with Dr. Patrick O’Connor and one of his students from the UGA Department of Kinesiology. Great work everyone!

It’s Heart Health Month!

Map of Georgia showing county rates of hypertension.

February is Heart Health Month, a time when we take stock of our cardiovascular health and risk factors for heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the state of Georgia, and ranks 14th in heart disease mortality (yikes!). Within Georgia, rates of high blood pressure are higher in our rural areas, highlighting the need for greater prevention efforts and access to care.

Members of the PACE Lab work toward more people living physically active lifestyles. Engaging in regular physical activity can reduce your risk of heart disease. One of our current projects, the Blue Gym of Georgia, is investigating ways to encourage people to be active outdoors and to improve the environment’s health at the same time.

For more information on American Heart Month, check out the CDC and American Heart Association for great resources on preventing heart disease, including the new American Heart Association campaign, Reclaim Your Rhythm.

New Research – Cheerleaders May Benefit from More Education on Preventing the Female Athlete Triad

Dr. Allison Smith led a research study into the physiological and psychological health concerns related to competitive cheerleading. In her sample all cheerleaders had low energy availability and more than half had both low energy availability with increased risk of disordered eating. The female athlete triad also consists of low bone mineral density and menstrual dysfunction, which Dr. Smith had a relatively high prevalence among her cheerleading sample.

Dr. Allison Smith recently received her PhD from the University of South Carolina, and is now faculty at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Dr. Jennifer Gay served on her dissertation committee and is co-author on the published study. The full article is published online.

Abstract from the article, Examination of the Prevalence of Female Athlete Triad Components among Competitive Cheerleaders
Image of the first article page including journal logo, article title, author information, and abstract

Physical Inactivity Is Prevalent in Georgia, across the South

The CDC recently released new data on state-level prevalence of physical inactivity. At least 25% of Georgians are physically inactive. This means they reported no physical activities like running, calisthenics, golf, gardening, or walking for exercise in the past month. Physical inactivity is associated with higher risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and many other chronic conditions. Check out the Active People, Healthy Nation initiative from CDC or the International Society for Physical Activity’s 8 Investments That Work for Physical Activity to learn how to engage your community in physical activity.

Map details in table below
Prevalence of Adult Physical Inactivity by State; source CDC January 2022

Check out the UGA Space and Planetary Science and Engineering Program!

The mission of the PACE Lab is to reframe existing spaces for physical activity. Part of this work includes evaluating social and physical environments. Dr. Jennifer Gay is Co-Investigator on a new interdisciplinary team, the UGA Space and Planetary Science and Engineering Program. One of the goals of this program is to investigate space environmental effects on human health, medicine, and in-situ monitoring. Updates for this project will be posted online. Be sure to check it out!

a collage of space scenes

Occupational physical activity is stable over time; new PACE Lab study

A new research article by Dr. Jennifer Gay and her colleague, Dr. David Buchner from the University of Illinois, has been published. “Twelve-Month Stability of Accelerometer-Measured Occupational and Leisure-Time Physical Activity and Compensation Effects” is now available online ahead of publication and will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Journal for the Measurement of Physical Behaviour. Dr. Gay found that physical activity, measured by an accelerometer, was stable over 6 and 12 months, with greater stability seen in field versus office-based jobs. This is the fourth article published out of Dr. Gay’s American Heart Association funded study on occupational physical activity and health.

Occupational Physical Activity Opposes Obesity: A Cross-Sectional Modern Replication of the Morris 1953 London Busmen Study

An examination of compensation effects in accelerometer-measured occupational and non-occupational physical activity

Associations Between Office Location and Adiposity in Office Workers