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Swoboda, Debra

Swoboda, Debra

Curriculum Vitae

Professor and Chair
Behavioral Sciences

Phone: 718-262-2686
Office Location: AC-4D06E


Degree Institution Field Dates
PhD  SUNY Stony Brook  Psychology  1992 
MA  SUNY Stony Brook  Social Psychology  1982 
BA  SUNY Stony Brook  Sociology  1979 
  Concordia College, St. Paul    1975 
  Iowa University    1973-1974 

Dr. Swoboda's disciplinary research focuses on layperson understanding of genetic risk for health problems and how genetic technologies impact conceptions of disability. She has published articles and book chapters on the social construction and diagnosis of contested illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome and environmental illness/multiple chemical sensitivities. Her scholarship of teaching and learning research looks at faculty engagement with the learning sciences, scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL), and constructivist pedagogies.

Areas of Expertise

Impact of genetic technologies on conceptions of disability
Layperson understanding of genetic risk for health problems
Contested illnesses (i.e., environmental illnesses/multiple chemical sensitivities)
Constructivist pedagogies

Articles in Field Of Expertise

Swoboda, D. (2008). "Negotiating the diagnostic uncertainty of contested illnesses: Physician practices and paradigms." Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine. 12 : 453-78.

Swoboda, D. (2006). "Embodiment and the search for illness legitimacy among women with contested illnesses." Michigan Feminist Studies. 19 : 73-90.

Swoboda, D. (2006). "The social construction of contested illness legitimacy: A grounded theory analysis." Qualitative Research in Psychology. 3 : 233-51.

French, D., McBee, K., Harmon, M., & Swoboda, D. (2003). "Digital and analog video equipment as assistive technology in dissection-intensive labs: Potential benefits to students with disabilities." The American Biology Teacher. 65 : 634-41.

Swoboda, D. (1992). "Notions of connectedness and community among political activists." Journal of Humanism and Ethical Religion. 5 : 26-49.

Swoboda, D., Eckstein, R., & Delaney, K. (1987). "A theoretical explanation of white collar organizing: Graduate student employees and the future of unions in academia." Humanity and Society. 11 : 165-74.

Swoboda, D. (1984). "Social psychology for social change." Journal of Curriculum Theorizing. 6 : 179-83.

Chapters in Field Of Expertise

Swoboda, D. (2015). "Frames of reference: Marketing the practice and ethics of PGD on fertility clinic websites." In B. L. Perry (Ed.), Genetics, health and society (Advances in medical sociology, vol 16). UK: Emerald Group Publishing : 217-247.

Swoboda, D. (2014). "Applying evidence-based principles of learning to teaching practice: The bridging the gap seminar." In V. A. Benassi, C. E. Overson, & C. M. Hakala (Eds.), Applying science of learning in education: Infusing psychological science into the curriculum. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association (Division 2: Society for the Teaching of Psychology). Retrieved from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology website : 206-214.

Swoboda, D., Davidson, E., Keiler, L. & Oglensky, B. (2011). "Creating space for the scholarship of teaching and learning: Transforming the meaning of academic work." In J. Summerfield & C. Smith (Eds.), Making teaching and learning matter: Transformative spaces in higher education. New York: Springer : 125-143.

Swoboda, D. (2008). "Listening to the body: Women with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and multiple chemical sensitivities talk about illness and the body." In D. Driedger & M. Owen (Eds.), Dissonant disabilities: Women with chronic illnesses theorize their lives. Toronto: Women's Press/CSPI : 87-97.

Swoboda, D. (1993). "Notions of connectedness and community among political activists." In A. Dobrin (Ed.), Being and doing right: Readings in moral development. Lanham, MD: University Press of America : 141-159.

Monographs in Field Of Expertise

Swoboda, D. (2012). "Using the IF discussion process in a service-learning enhanced course: A study of student learning outcomes." Retrieved from the Interactivity Foundation website. : 28 pages.

Reviews in Field Of Expertise

"Review of 'Generic: The unbranding of modern medicine' by J. Greene. Sociology of Health and Illness, 37(8), 1389-90." (2015, February 28): Advance online publication. doi: 10.1111/1467-9566.12277.

"Review of 'Transition to postsecondary education: Strategies for students with disabilities' by K. Webb. Disability Studies Quarterly, 21(4), 181." (2001, Fall): .


Presented Papers, Lectures, and Exhibitions and Performances

" Promoting student engagement with authentic data in a psychology of food course " (2015, September): Atlantic Coast Teaching of Psychology (ACToP), Red Bank, NJ.

" Bridging the gap: A faculty development program to help instructors connect psychology learning research to instruction " (2014, August): International Conference on Psychology Education. Flagstaff, AZ.

" Finding your center: Defining and redefining the role of faculty developers " (2014, January): CUNY Centers for Teaching and Learning Directors Retreat, Bronx, NY.

" Hidden disability disclosure: New meanings and practices in post-ADA disability services " (2013, October): Disability Disclosure in/and Higher Education, Newark, DE.

" Seminaring: Letting students do the talking about primary source texts " (2013, October): York College Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Jamaica, NY.

" To know or not to know: Attitudes and intentions towards genetic testing among Black and Hispanic persons with psychiatric disabilities " (2013, August): American Sociological Association, New York, NY.

" Getting faculty to apply evidence-based principles of learning to teaching practices: The bridging the gap seminar " (2013, May): CUNY Coordinated Undergraduate Education (CUE), New York, NY.

" Bridging the gap between cognitive psychology research and instructional practice: A model for faculty development " (2013, April): Teaching of Psychology, Tarrytown, NY.

" Expanding psychology's food studies: A model for teaching the undergraduate food seminar " (2013, March): Eastern Psychological Association, New York, NY.

" Engaging faculty, students, and administrators in general education reform through faculty inquiry groups " (2013, March): Association of American Colleges and Universities General Education and Assessment, Boston, MA.

" Discursive construction of reproductive genetic screening in U.S. public health rhetoric " (2012, July): International Congress of Psychology, Cape Town, South Africa.

" Designing learning outcomes to assess thinking processes in psychology courses " (2012, July): International Congress of Psychology, Cape Town, South Africa.

" Reproductive genetic screening and the healthy embryo: Master narratives in medical practice discourse/ Chairperson for session on 'The power of narratives in healthcare' " (2012, April): Popular Culture/American Culture Association, Boston, MA.

" Increasing research on teaching and learning to provide evidence of effective curriculum, instruction and assessment " (2012, January): CUNY Centers for Teaching and Learning Directors Retreat, Bronx, NY.

" The classroom community is our lab: Building small group discussion skills " (2010, November): International Lilly Conference on College Teaching and Learning, Oxford, OH.

" Threshold concepts " (2010, September): York College Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Jamaica, NY.

" Genetalk about psychiatric illness: Lay understanding of the genetics of bipolar disorder " (2010, June): Communication, Medicine & Ethics Society, Boston, MA.

" How do contested illnesses become public health concerns?: Understanding stakeholders and the process of transformation " (2009, November): York College Provost Lecture Series, Jamaica, NY.

" Using 'seminaring' to engage students in integrative learning with primary sources " (2009, October): International Society for Exploring Teaching and Learning, Philadelphia, PA.

" Invited speaker " (2009, October): York College Mini-Conference on Reorganization, Innovation, Excellence, Jamaica, NY.

" Immunophilosophy: Conceptions of the immune system among individuals with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities " (2009, June): Ethnography and Qualitative Research Association, Cedarville, OH.

" Faculty inquiry groups: Laying the foundation for general education reform " (2009, May): CUNY General Education, Bronx, NY.

" Building assessment into general education reform " (2009, January): York College General Education Program, Jamaica, NY.

" The politics of identity in MCS and environmental illness cybercommunities " (2008, June): Society for Disability Studies, New York, NY.

" A cognitive organization approach to learning organic chemistry: The see-think-predict approach " (2008, May): The International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, London, UK.

" General education course objectives " (2007, December): York College General Education Program, Jamaica, NY.

" Negotiating contested illness diagnostic uncertainty: Physician practices and paradigms " (2007, September): British Medical Sociology Group, Liverpool, UK.

" Deconstructing the social model: Epistemological and practical disagreements/ Chairperson for session on 'Evaluating the social model of disability' " (2007, May): Society for Disability Studies, Seattle, WA.

" Improving disciplinary thinking (and student success) in gateway courses: Insights from the trenches " (2007, May): CUNY General Education, Flushing, NY.

" Teaching disciplinary thinking in gateway courses " (2007, April): Lilly-East Conference on College and University Teaching, Newark, DE.

" Do the write thing: WAC in general education " (2007, March): York College Writing Across the Curriculum Program.

" Articulating course objectives " (2006, November): York College General Education Program, Jamaica, NY.

" Physician attitudes and practices concerning the diagnosis of contested illnesses " (2006, June): Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, Long Beach, CA.

" Using Kuhn to advance critical thinking in a history and systems course " (2006, June): American Psychological Society, New York, NY.

" Conceptions of illness embodiment in women with contested illnesses " (2006, May): Canadian Disability Studies Association, Toronto, CA.

" Promoting competencies for integrative learning in general education courses " (2006, May): CUNY General Education, Bayside, NY.

" Evaluating the teacher/scholar model/ Chairperson for roundtable on 'The teacher/scholar model' " (2005, October): New England Psychological Association, New Haven, CT.

" Critical events in the social construction of contested illnesses " (2005, August): American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.

" The role of illness discourse in the development of a contested illness classification system: Analysis of rhetorical constructs " (2005, August): Society for the Psychological Study of Social Problems, Philadelphia, PA.

" The role of internet discussion sites in establishing the legitimacy of contested illnesses " (2005, March): Eastern Psychological Association, Boston, MA.

" Critical events in the social construction of contested illnesses " (2005, February): American Association of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Las Vegas, NV.

" Measure for measure: Process-oriented techniques for teaching research paper writing skills " (2004, October): International Society for Exploring Teaching and Learning, Baltimore, MD.

" Dealing with troubled students: A case-study approach " (2001, April): Sharing our Resources in Student Affairs, New York, NY.

" College students with psychological disabilities: Counseling and advising issues " (2000, February): Vocational and Rehabilitation Services Counselors, New York, NY.

" Preparing students with disabilities for employment: A training program " (1998, November): American College Personnel Association, St. Louis, MO.

" Success rates of students with disabilities at a large public university: A ten year profile " (1998, March): Association on Higher Education and Disability, St. Louis, MO.

" Conceptions of identity among students with learning disabilities " (1996, June): Society for Disability Studies, Washington, DC.

" Postsecondary transition for students with learning disabilities " (1995, July): International Conference on Higher Education and Disability, Innsbruck, Austria.

" Teaching students critical thinking skills in an introductory social science course " (1994, February): National Social Science Association, Las Vegas, NV.

" Building self-advocacy and mentor relationships among students with disabilities " (1994, January): Freshman Year Experience, Columbia, SC.

" Notions of responsibility and commitment among political activists " (1993, March): Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology, New Orleans, LA.

Professional Honors, Prizes, Fellowships

Numeracy Infusion Course for Higher Education (NICHE). Program designed to facilitate pedagogical skills to help students develop quantitative literacy. Lehman College/CUNY. Bronx, NY: (2014, Summer).

Interactivity Foundation (IF) Summer Institute. Program designed to facilitate student-centered classroom deliberation of public policy issues using the IF discussion process. Madison, WI: (2009, August).

Mumford Teaching Fellowship (Federated Learning Communities). Program designed to facilitate interdisciplinary learning among students and faculty through common courses and a linking seminar. SUNY Stony Brook. Stony Brook, NY: (1983 - 1984).

Residence Fellowship. Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Sciences, Princeton University: (2011) Declined.

Residence Fellowship. Institute for Advanced Study, Health and Society Quandrant Group, University of Minnesota: (2011) Declined.

Visiting International Fellowship. Department of Sociology, University of Surrey, UK: (2011) Declined.

Faculty Fellowship Publications Program. City University of New York: (2007) Declined.


PSC-CUNY 40 Research Award, Lay perceptions of the new genetics: Assessing knowledge and beliefs of genetics consumers. (2009-10): $2,800.

PSC-CUNY 38 Research Award, Collective identity in contested illness cybercommunities: The case of multiple chemical sensitivity online discussion groups. (2007-08): $3,990.

CUNY Faculty Development Program, Understanding disciplinary differences and commonalities in general education gateway courses. (2006-07): $5,000.

PSC-CUNY 36 Research Award, The development of diagnostic criteria and treatment regimens for individuals with contested illnesses. (2005-06): $3,840.

PSC-CUNY 35 Research Award, The social construction of illness identity in individuals with contested illnesses: A qualitative study. (2004-05): $4,300.

National Science Foundation, PULSE of New York (PONY): Engaging students in primary survey research. Collaborative grant PIs: Wilder, E., Hurley, D., Wang, F., Swoboda, D., & Vianna, E.. : (2015) York College budget $92,840. Declined.

Society for the Teaching of Psychology (APA, Division 2): Resources for teaching the psychology of disability, . : (2007) $1,500. Declined.

Offices Held In Professional Societies

Review Board, International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: (2005 - present).

Editorial Board, Disability Studies Quarterly: (2011 - 2013).

Invited Participant, Western Governor's University Distance Learning Advisory Committee: (1997 - 1998).

Secretary, Oklahoma Association on Higher Education and Disability: (1995 - 1998).

Other Professional Activities and Public Service

Society for Disability Studies: (1992 - present).

Eastern Psychological Association: (2005 - 2015).

Society for the Teaching of Psychology: (2005 - present).

New England Psychological Association: (2005 - 2015).

Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues: (2006 - present).

American Sociological Association: (2011 - present).

International Congress of Psychology: (2011 - present).

American Psychological Association: (2005 - 2008).

Invited External Tenure/Promotion Reviewer, Hostos Community College: (2015).

Invited External Tenure/Promotion Reviewer, University of Delaware, Newark: (2010).

Invited Reviewer, Swiss National Science Foundation: (2013).

Invited Reviewer, Wellcome Trust Grant Program: (2009, 2010).

Invited Reviewer, Queensborough Community College SoTL Grant Program: (2014).

Invited Reviewer, PSC-CUNY Grant Program: (2006).

Invited Reviewer, Qualitative Health Research: (2012 - 2014).

Invited Reviewer, Sociology of Health and Illness: (2014).

Invited Reviewer, Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine: (2009 - 2010).

Invited Reviewer, Journal on Excellence in College Teaching: (2008).

Book Reviewer, Pearson: (2007 - 2008).

Invited Reviewer, Free Inquiry in Creative Sociology: (1999).