2024 Innovative Teaching Award

Mary Beth Medvide honored for engaging students in action research into DEI best practices
Mary Beth Medvide holds a glass award while standing in front of tables and books
Psychology Assistant Professor Mary Beth Medvide received the 2024 Innovative Teaching Award from Suffolk's Center for Teaching and Scholarly Excellence at this year's Symposium on Innovation in Teaching & Learning.

The Center for Teaching and Scholarly Excellence honored Assistant Professor of Psychology Mary Beth Medvide with the 2024 Innovative Teaching Award for her work engaging graduate students in action research into diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) best practices during its annual Symposium on Innovation in Teaching & Learning this May.

Each year the Innovative Teaching Award celebrates an exceptional faculty member who displays a dedication to student engagement and learning by integrating one or more innovative teaching practices into one of their academic courses. The award aims to encourage the ongoing enhancement of teaching by recognizing faculty members who explore creative teaching methods and pedagogies that can contribute to the culture of innovative teaching and learning at Suffolk. 

Medvide incorporated an action research project for second-year mental health counseling (MHC) students into her Counseling Diverse Populations course this year, giving students the opportunity to research DEI initiatives in higher education and provide recommendations for inclusive teaching practices that could be implemented at Suffolk. When she gave her students this option, Medvide says they were eager to get involved in work that could have an impact on their program in the future.

The selection committee noted that by engaging her students in a collaborative action research project, Medvide provided them with an opportunity to be active contributors to their own learning, encouraging them to hold themselves and each other accountable for the quality of their ideas and the integrity of their efforts. This approach helped her students position their learning as something with real-world applications and pragmatic value, which helped them extend it to their own lives and find avenues to apply it in the field. 

The students combined their own expertise and lived experiences with best practice recommendations to create a presentation to the MHC Program Director Professor David Shumaker and the College of Arts & Sciences Dean Edie Sparks. They focused on three key areas of the mental health counseling student experience: 

  • Helping students prepare for the first day of class
  • Developing a syllabus and syllabus day experience that is more inclusive for students
  • Improving the course evaluation experience to more directly address aspects of DEI.

Shumaker, who calls Medvide’s classroom presence “truly dynamic, inclusive, and innovative,” says her work in this course is significant because it empowers students in ways that encourage inclusion and growth. “This type of research project defines the expert as not only those individuals with traditional expertise (i.e., professors, administrators) but also the consumers or those impacted by the policies, teaching, and culture put in place (i.e., the students).”

In a reflection paper, one student—who earned an undergraduate degree in psychology and was completing the master in mental health counseling graduate program—wrote that, “To be a part of something that could foster a magnitude of change definitely beats any other project, paper, or assignment I was given in my six years at Suffolk… Dr. Medvide’s passion and creativity was always something I have admired, and by that being the posture she modeled, we also became very passionate and on fire for a cause and were able to act on it in real time.” 

Medvide, who studies the conscious cultivation of hope as a tool for positive change, acknowledges the responsibility she and her colleagues have for training future mental health counselors who will be curious, creative, and culturally competent. 

“My hope is that my passion for the material and the lens we used to learn will be internalized by the students and spark an interest in theories and topics relevant to their clinical work as they become early career clinicians,” says Medvide. 

Mary Beth Medvide holds a glass award while standing with CTSE Director Rachel Plews, Provost Julie Sandell and CAS Dean Edie Sparks
Center for Teaching and Scholarly Excellence Director Rachel Plews, Provost Julie Sandell, Assistant Professor Mary Beth Medvide, and College of Arts & Sciences Dean Edie Sparks celebrated Medvide's Innovative Teaching Award


Greg Gatlin
Office of Public Affairs

Andrea Grant
Office of Public Affairs