Hanna Jensen Named 2019-20 Recipient of Outstanding Contribution to Service Learning Teaching Award

Assistant professor Hanna Jensen receives the Service Learning Outstanding Teaching Award.
Kendall Curlee

Assistant professor Hanna Jensen receives the Service Learning Outstanding Teaching Award.

Hanna Jensen, a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Arkansas, was named the recipient of the 2019-20 Outstanding Contribution to Service Learning Teaching Award. The Service Learning Initiative Committee recognized the extraordinary commitment and accomplishments of Jensen through her Service Learning course — Clinical Observations and Needs Finding.

The award ceremony was held on Monday, March 2, to honor Jensen. In addition to the Service Learning Committee, attendees included John English, dean of the College of Engineering; Lynda Coon, dean of the Honors College; Raj Raghavendra Rao, head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering; and Morten Jensen, husband of Hanna Jensen and associate professor in the Biomedical Engineering Department. Additionally, a former student, Kaylee Henry, who helped nominate Jensen for the award, was on hand to show continued support.   

Rao shared his appreciation for Jensen by thanking her for her commitment and contributions to the Biomedical Engineering Department throughout the years, and spoke of his gratitude for all of her hard work, passion, and efforts in developing a student-focused atmosphere within the department. Dean English echoed comments of praise, sharing his excitement to see "a genuinely kind, and deserving" individual honored with such an award. On behalf of the Honors College, Dean Coon, thanked Jensen, the Service Learning Initiative, and departments on campus for working to equip students with opportunities to serve and learn in the community.

Biomedical Engineering is the fastest growing engineering field in the nation. In the fall of 2017, the Biomedical Engineering Department initiated a partnership with local health care clinics, primarily UAMS Northwest, to promote engineering design, community engagement and health care innovations. With a medical background, Jensen worked effortlessly with the medical community to actively evaluate and improve the framework of the Clinical Needs Finding course. Given the community engagement aspect and direct nature of student impact, Jensen sought to designate the course as Service Learning.  In her application, Jensen stated that her motivation was to "prepare a generation of skilled problem solvers who, together with medical professionals, drive the momentum of novel technologies for prevention, detection, treatment, and monitoring of disease."

By integrating Service Learning into her course, Jensen sends biomedical engineering students into a medical environment. This requires them to ask questions and identify problems as a means to bridge the field between engineers and those they are educated to serve.  With funding from the Teaching and Faculty Support Center, means have been provided to allow this field work and design development for students. Jensen shared, "This is the first time the students get to find the problem — rather than having a problem handed to them to solve.  This is extremely effective on several levels." 

Jensen has evolved her approach as an educator to not only teach the engineering design-focused content, but to use her medical background to educate students in the delicate science of interdisciplinary discourse. Jensen shared and published her experience with the course in the Journal of Regional Medical Campuses and presented the course's novel structure at the annual Biomedical Engineering Society Meeting in October 2018. 

Jensen's passion for the course, and student and clinical partner enjoyment, is evident and deserving of the course's  success. In response to the course, Jensen shared, "We are serving our community while educating aware and compassionate biomedical engineers. I can think of few things more rewarding."  

About the Service Learning Initiative: The Service Learning Initiative is a joint initiative of the University of Arkansas Provost Office and the Honors College with the purpose of formalizing and expanding Service Learning opportunities on campus. Since 2014, when the Initiative was launched, more than 150 courses have been designated as Service Learning. Each semester, faculty and course instructors are encouraged to apply for Service Learning course designation. More information regarding Service Learning Course Designation can be found on the Service Learning Initiative website.


Jennie Popp, co-chair, Service Learning Initiative
Honors College
479-575-7381, jhpopp@uark.edu

Kendall Curlee, director of communications
Honors College
479-575-2024, kcurlee@uark.edu


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