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My Teaching Philosophy

My classroom teaching has taken place in the context of 1) a professional graduate program, and 2) a new graduate program in Health Information Science (HIS) I helped found, which has a course-based option in the Master’s, but is a traditional thesis-based program.  My guiding philosophy for Masters students who plan to exit graduate school following this degree, therefore, is to a) teach students how to do things that will get them the jobs they want while b) instilling in them the desire to critically and reflexively engage with what they’re doing, and why they’re doing it.  

For my research-oriented students, the task is a bit different. The Masters level required course I developed for the HIS program has a mix of course-based and thesis-based MHIS students, along with HIS-PhD students.  The above approach, therefore, is integrated with additional emphasis on the critical and scholarly, in a method I present to my students as “the irritation approach”.  I feel that my job, in this introductory course to a new, interdisciplinary field we call “health information science”, is to 1) get everyone on the same page regarding language, themes, systems and users (the students come from various health and social science, clinical and other backgrounds), 2) introduce key topics and emerging issues in the field, and 3) get them “irritated” enough about a topic to turn it into a thesis/major research project (think sand and pearls). 

In 2017, I was incredibly fortunate to be a faculty member and mentor in the GlobalMINDS@Western initiative, which had us travel to Machakos, Kenya with 10 Western University students and work with Kenyan faculty and students using social innovation methods to solve wicked problems in global mental health.  For more on the program, visit the program site, and to watch a video of our Kenyan experience, click here.

“I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to work with Dr. Wathen. Her enthusiasm for, and commitment to, research that supports the improvement of health outcomes of vulnerable women is inspiring.
Her mentorship continues to provide me with great opportunities for professional growth.”
— Supervised PhD Candidate 2017

Student Supervision

Outside the classroom, I am very committed to graduate research supervision.  Since beginning at FIMS, I’ve supervised independent study courses for a number of LIS and HIS students on projects that used various methods to collect and analyse both primary and secondary data. 

 I have also served as a Mentor in the Health Care, Technology and Place Program at the University of Toronto, have advised FIMS LIS doctoral students, including supervising an independent doctoral reading course, and serving on several comprehensive examination committees, and, since the advent of the HIS program in 2011, I have supervised a number of MHIS and HIS-PhD students. I have also served, at UWO, on Graduate Thesis Committees in Nursing, Women’s Studies and Feminist Research and Sociology.  Finally, I have had the opportunity to supervise several post-doctoral fellows.  (Details can be found in my CV).

“Dr. Wathen expanded my capacity for critical thought with genuine appraisals of literature and clinical/community initiatives within health information science. I am forever enhanced as a direct result of her teaching, mentorship, and inspiring example.”
— Master's Candidate 2015