Faculty Spotlight - Psychology professor focuses on mindfulness

Friday, January 31, 2020
Written by: Emily Hollingshead

Striving to lead a more meaningful life, but unsure how to start? Seminole State College of Florida Professor of Psychology Dr. Doreen Collins is teaching her students practical ways to be present in the current moment and more engaged in the world around them.  

“We are told from the time we are little kids to ‘pay attention,’ but nobody teaches us how to pay attention,” said Collins, so at the beginning of her general psychology classes she leads her students in a short meditation, allowing them to practice focusing on the present. Collins elaborates that increased focus is just one benefit of meditation in the education environment. She says other benefits include increased compassion and empathy; and reduced stress, anxiety and depression symptoms. Collins completed her dissertation in 2016 studying the benefits of meditation in the classroom, teaching second and third grade students a compassion based meditation.  

Dr. Doreen Collins, professor of psychology.

Collins’ psychology classes are interactive and push students to utilize what they are learning in the real world. “I try to incorporate teaching and learning practices that make the course come alive,” said Collins. “When students apply what they are learning, it is more meaningful, leading to a deeper understanding and better retention.” Beyond meditation, Collins engages her classes in service-learning where the students volunteer in the community while keeping a journal relating their experiences back to what they are studying. Collins partnered with Pine Crest Elementary School, where most of her students volunteer as classroom assistants. The service-learning method not only provides needed volunteer support at the elementary school, but also engages the students more in the community and in what they are learning.  

Over the past nine years, Collins’ students have provided over 7,500 hours of community service at the elementary school alone. “The students from Seminole State are amazing!” said Pine Crest Elementary School Teacher Jill Guber. “My students look forward to their visits and look up to them as positive role models.” 

One of the things I love most about teaching is when students get excited about what they are learning, and they share the information with their families and friends.

Dr. Doreen Collins.

This experience has broadened some Seminole State students’ horizons, opening them up to career paths they would not have considered in the past. “I enjoyed my time at Pine Crest and have made plans to return every Thursday for the remainder of the school year,” wrote student Nathan Johnson in one journal entry. “This was a rewarding experience and it has sparked my interest in teaching as a potential career path.” 

Ultimately, Collins tries to incorporate very practical, applicable things that students can use in their personal and professional lives. “I loved being a clinician, but through teaching, I can share psychological research with so many more people, and they can apply it to their lives,” said Collins. “One of the things I love most about teaching is when students get excited about what they are learning, and they share the information with their families and friends.” 

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About Seminole State College

Seminole State College of Florida, established in 1965, serves nearly 30,000 students across six sites in Central Florida. A comprehensive college, Seminole State has awarded more than 100,000 credentials, from bachelor's degrees to high school diplomas, and offers more than 200 degrees, certificates and programs designed for success. For more about the college, visit seminolestate.edu
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