2 from Watts College among 4 presented with Faculty Women of Color Caucus Awards

May 4, 2023

The Arizona State University Faculty Women of Color Caucus, or FWOCC, recently presented two of its four annual awards to members of the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions for their efforts to advance inclusive excellence.

FWOCC President Jackie Martinez presented Chandra Crudup, Watts College associate dean for inclusive design and equity access (IDEA) and an associate professor in the School of Social Work, with the organization’s inaugural Outstanding Leadership Award. Portrait photos of Chandra Crudup and Cynthia Mackey. Watts College Associate Dean Chandra Crudup (left) and social work doctoral student Cynthia Mackey received two of four awards presented by the ASU Faculty Women of Color Caucus. Download Full Image

Martinez, faculty head of languages and cultures at the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, bestowed the Outstanding Doctoral Student Award on Cynthia Mackey, who is pursuing a doctoral degree in social work and expects to graduate in May 2025.

Watts College Dean and President’s Professor Cynthia Lietz said the FWOCC’s recognition of Crudup and Mackey at the April ceremony honors their dedication to the work of fostering inclusion for all.

“Our IDEA Office, created and led by Dr. Chandra Crudup, is a model for embedding this work into all we do,” Lietz said. ”And Cynthia Mackey serves as an IDEA Scholar and is an emerging leader in this area. This recognition is well deserved!”

‘She does this work for a greater purpose’

Crudup was nominated for her award by Vanessa Fonseca-Chavez, an associate professor of English and a College of Integrative Sciences and Arts associate dean of diversity, equity and inclusion. She described Crudup as “a kind and thoughtful leader who takes a lot of pride in the work that she does, except that she does this work for a greater purpose, which is to advocate for those who do not have the same access to the institution as others.”

Chandra Crudup, associate dean, Watts College, interim director, Studio for Creativity, Place and Equitable Communitiesr

Watts College Associate Dean Chandra Crudup (far right) listens during a faculty, staff and alumni panel discussion of first-generation college students at the 2023 First Generation Student Dinner. Photo by Mark J. Scarp/ASU

Fonseca-Chavez pointed to Crudup’s leadership in creating a space for career-track faculty in FWOCC, making sure they were included in discussions within the organization, as an illustration of this trait.

“She led an effort to focus on how white supremacy affected our most vulnerable faculty in the classroom, and she ensured that their voices were included in the conversations,” Fonseca-Chavez wrote.

Fonseca-Chavez also wrote that Crudup’s post as associate dean made it “incredible to watch and hear about how she skillfully negotiated her role and ensured that there were opportunities to thrive extended to her and to the larger community at Watts.”

Crudup is also interim director of the ASU Studio for Creativity, Place and Equitable Communities.

Crudup said she accepted her award “in honor and acknowledgment of the many women of color leaders — past, present and future — who are pushing the needle every day, as they live, work and breathe within systems not designed for them.”

These leaders “are reimaging change in both formal and informal roles; collectively taking, carrying and passing the baton forward; creating inclusive spaces so that all might have the opportunity to thrive,” Crudup said. “Accepting a formal leadership role comes with great responsibility, and I take that responsibility seriously. I am grateful to work alongside a community in the Watts College and beyond that is committed to leading anti-racist and anti-oppressive practices not just in what we say, but in what we do.”

‘An enduring commitment’

Mackey was nominated for her award by Kelly Jackson, an associate professor of social work, who wrote that Mackey “demonstrates an enduring commitment and leadership efforts to reduce health disparities and improve health-care outcomes for Black and African American communities, especially Black women, here in the Valley.”

Cynthia Mackey, doctoral student, School of Social Work, 2023

Social work doctoral student Cynthia Mackey (right) stops by a table at the 2023 Celebrating Black Brilliance event. Photo by Mark J. Scarp/ASU

Jackson noted that Mackey is one of the first doctoral students in social work to receive the prestigious Council on Social Work Education Minority Fellowship.

“She also has taken on multiple leadership roles within Watts College to help support racially marginalized students through her graduate assistantship within the (IDEA) office, including creating and chairing the annual Celebrating Black Brilliance event,” Jackson wrote. The event is held on the Downtown Phoenix campus.

In addition, Mackey is also former president of the graduate student group Inclusive and Multicultural Association of Social Work Scholars, “which uniquely creates a supportive space for both PhD students and faculty of color in the School of Social Work,” Jackson wrote.

Mackey said she was grateful for the acknowledgement of her work and credited members of her support community for contributing to her success. She dedicated the award to them.

“As a doctoral student, community is with me through mentorship from my fabulous chair and committee mentors and the relationships I have established in community, as I seek to advocate for more culturally responsive and reflexive research tailored to meet the mental health needs of Black women who have experienced incarceration,” Mackey said.

“As an instructor, my students and I create community as we co-develop our classroom and assignments to meet their learning needs and practice anti-racist and anti-oppressive practice in action. Community is always with us at the (IDEA) Office, where I am supported by a team of truly remarkable peers and mentors.”

A College of Integrative Sciences and Arts professor and a master’s student in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences received the other two FWOCC awards:

  • Alisia Tran, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts associate professor of counseling and counseling psychology, received the Outstanding Faculty Peer Mentor Award.
  • Angelyn Soto of the School of Transborder Studies received the Outstanding Master’s Student Award.
Mark J. Scarp

Media Relations Officer, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions


ASU study finds active learning can alleviate depression for undergraduates

May 4, 2023

Increasingly, college courses are transitioning from traditional lecture to active learning because research shows that students learn more and struggle less when they engage in activities and discussions in class. 

However, new ways of teaching and learning can also bring new sets of challenges and opportunities.  A group of students participating in active learning, surrounding a table and looking at and writing on a piece of paper. “We know that active learning courses, where students are engaging with content and their peers rather than passively listening to the instructor, can affect students' anxiety,” said PhD candidate Carly Busch. Photo courtesy Pexels Download Full Image

In a new study published in Life Sciences Education, Arizona State University researchers Katey Cooper, Tala Araghi and Carly Busch highlight how active learning has the potential to both alleviate and exacerbate depressive symptoms in undergraduates. 

“It was encouraging to find that, despite the negative impact that depression can have on learning, active learning courses can have a positive impact on students’ depression,” Cooper said.

“Specifically, we found that engaging students in learning, providing frequent opportunities to successfully solve problems, giving students opportunities to seek social and academic support from their peers and allowing them chances to realize that other students struggle too was protective against depressive symptoms.” 

Cooper is an assistant professor in the School of Life Sciences and a program director of biological education research in the Center for Biology and Society

Busch is a PhD candidate in biology and society in the Cooper Biology Education Research Lab. Over the years, the Cooper Lab has examined how new ways of teaching, including active learning, result in novel challenges and advantages for undergraduate science students.  

Araghi graduated in 2022 with a degree in biological and biomedical sciences and as a member of Barrett, The Honors College. Busch served as Araghi’s mentor as she carried out her honors thesis in the Cooper Lab, which resulted in the depression and active learning study.

“Based on prior work from our group, we know that active learning courses, where students are engaging with content and their peers rather than passively listening to the instructor, can affect students' anxiety, but it was unknown what aspects of these courses exacerbate or alleviate their depressive symptoms,” Busch said. 

Depression is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as a mood disorder that results in persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. In 2019, a nationwide survey revealed that 39% of undergraduates met the clinical criteria for major depressive disorder. This number increased to over 45% during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To characterize the relationship between active learning and undergraduate depression, Cooper, Araghi and Busch conducted a national exploratory interview study of 29 undergraduates who identify as having depression and who have been enrolled in at least one in-person active-learning college science course. 

“I had the opportunity to connect with undergraduates all over the country and understand how impactful instructors’ decisions and teaching styles are to the severity of their depression. I began to understand that if we could uncover how teaching styles both exacerbate and alleviate symptoms of depression, we could come up with ways to make learning spaces more inclusive for students with depression,” Araghi said.

Undergraduate students who participated in the study described an array of ways that their depression makes it challenging for them to learn content in active-learning college science courses. 

The study identified four specific aspects of active learning that have an effect on students' depressive symptoms: opportunities to compare self with others, socializing with others while learning, frequent formative evaluation and engagement in learning. 

Each of these aspects have the potential to both alleviate or exacerbate a student's depression symptoms, especially when acknowledging that depression symptoms are not uniformly consistent day to day. 

For example, asking students to participate in a high-engagement activity can help students experiencing depression symptoms by distracting them from negative self-talk and generating more social interaction. However, high-engagement activities require more energy and mental bandwidth and can sometimes feel draining and overwhelming for students experiencing depression symptoms. 

“When you look out into your class, it’s reasonable to believe that at least one-third of your students are struggling with depression. For me, that means at least 100 undergrads in my class. So, hearing all of the positive and negative ways that active learning can impact student depression really made me think deeply about the decisions I make as an instructor, how far-reaching they are and the importance of making choices that have a positive effect,” Cooper said.

Overall, active learning has the power to serve as a positive and encouraging practice for student learning, especially among students who experience anxiety or depression, and by maintaining mindfulness of student experience and making additional small adjustments, teachers and educators can increase this effectiveness and improve the learning experience for their students. 

“A particular strength of this study is that through these recommendations, we can continue implementing active learning across college science courses, but do so in a way that is thoughtful about the experiences of students with depression,” Busch said.

In the example of high-engagement teaching activities, the study suggests that instructors consider giving students the opportunity and flexibility to opt out when they need to preserve their resources on days when their depression symptoms are severe. 

Even though active learning has the potential to exacerbate depressive symptoms, I remain a tremendous proponent of teaching in active learning ways, because of the profoundly positive impact it can have on student performance,” Cooper said. 

“Our study suggests that by making small changes to how we teach, we have the opportunity to avoid inadvertently exacerbating depressive symptoms. This work provides clear recommendations for how to develop active-learning courses in ways that maximize students' mental health.”

Dominique Perkins

Manager of marketing and communications, School of Life Sciences