Service-Learning Research Excellence Award

The Service-Learning Research Excellence Award recognizes UGA faculty for excellence in research and scholarship related to or resulting from academic service-learning. This award, established in 2011, carries a $2,500 faculty development award.

UGA faculty members in any career track are eligible to apply.

Nominations by deans and department heads, faculty colleagues, or self-nominations are accepted. Nomination/application packets should follow the stated guidelines (available below during Fall semester) and be assembled into a single PDF for submission.

The 2023 Service-Learning Research Excellence Award application/nomination is due by Dec. 2, 2022; see PDF below.

Previous recipients of the Service-Learning Research Excellence Award

2022 Service-Learning Research Excellence Award Winner:

Gary T. Green, Professor and Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources

Over the past two decades, Dr. Gary T. Green has engaged his service-learning students with local, state, and national partner agencies to assess the impact of environmental education programs on participants’ perception and behavior, and to determine how park and nature center facilities and services meet the needs of their visitors. For instance, Dr. Green and his students conducted research in conjunction with three Georgia State Parks, investigating which demographic groups felt under-served, which resulted in new facilities, programs and services provided. He co-led the annual National Survey on Recreation and the Environment and the National Kids Survey, leading to better understanding of Americans’ participation, behaviors, and benefits from outdoor recreation. He and his students have authored dozens of technical reports, peer-reviewed journal articles and outreach research articles reporting on the development and findings of their scholarship. A 2018-19 Service-Learning Fellow, Dr. Green has also been recognized with numerous awards including the 2021 Service-Learning Teaching Excellence Award, the Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professorship and the Richard B. Russell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

2020 Service-Learning Research Excellence Award Winner:

Lance Palmer, Professor, Department of Financial Planning, Housing, and Consumer Economics, College of Family and Consumer Sciences

Over the past decade, Dr. Lance Palmer has produced articles, book chapters, conference presentations and proceedings relating to the impacts on students and the community from innovative pedagogy for financial education, including service-learning, video-based financial coaching, and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. This program, a collaboration between the College of Family & Consumer Sciences, the Georgia United Credit Union, and the Internal Revenue Service, also engages students in Dr. Palmer’s graduate and undergraduate service-learning courses in applied financial planning with low- and moderate-income clients. He has received over $130,000 in grants supporting VITA, and collaborated on over $10 million in externally funded projects. He received UGA’s Engaged Scholar Award in 2013, and is a past participant in the Service-Learning Research Faculty Learning Community, Lilly Teaching Fellow, and 2009 recipient of the Richard B. Russell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

2019 Service-Learning Research Excellence Award Winner:

Joseph W. Goetz, Associate Professor, Department of Financial Planning, Housing, and Consumer Economics, College of Family and Consumer Sciences

Dr. Joseph Goetz has co-authored numerous scholarly articles, chapters, and books relating to innovative pedagogy for financial planning education, including service-learning. A co-founder of UGA’s ASPIRE Clinic, Dr. Goetz annually teaches the Clinical Practicum in Financial Planning as well as a graduate course in Advanced Financial Counseling and Client Communication, engaging students in service-learning with low-income clients. Integrating his scholarship with this teaching, Dr. Goetz has developed a national reputation as a pioneer in teaching innovation through experiential learning in financial planning, and was recognized as the 2013 Financial Counselor of the Year by the Association of Financial Counseling and Planning Education. A past Service-Learning Fellow and Lilly Fellow, Dr. Goetz also co-wrote a successful grant proposal to the Charles Schwab Foundation in support of expanding the capacity of the financial planning program’s public outreach and experiential learning opportunities.

2018 Service-Learning Research Excellence Award Winner:

Abigail Borron, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Dr. Abigail Borron has published and presented award-winning research in agricultural communication based on a pedagogical research design and methodological framework known as the “culture-centered approach,” which she developed. In addition to applying the culture-centered approach to agricultural communication service-learning coursework and community-based research, Dr. Borron is working with the J.W. Fanning Institute as a Public Service Fellow, helping develop ways to evaluate social impact of leadership development programs. She has also published on critical reflection in service-learning and collaborated on service-learning research methodologies including Q Methodology and Photovoice. Dr. Borron was a Service-Learning Fellow in 2015-16 and is part of the Faculty Learning Community on Service-Learning Research.

2017 Service-Learning Research Excellence Award Winner:

Tiffany Washington, assistant professor of social work, School of Social Work

Dr. Tiffany Washington integrates community-engaged research with service-learning coursework in gerontology, focusing on issues of health and caregiving. Her evaluation research, resulting in journal manuscripts, conference presentations, and external grant proposals, has demonstrated the results of the service-learning “Houseguest” program, which partners social work graduate students with adults with dementia to provide in-home, tailored activities, while also allowing their regular caregivers a “self-care” break. Her research demonstrates the program’s impacts on student learning about dementia, attitudes towards older adults, and self-efficacy, as well as benefits to the participating community members. She was a Service-Learning Fellow in 2014-15 and a recipient of UGA’s 2016 Creative Teaching Award.

2016 Service-Learning Research Excellence Award Winner:

Kimberly Skobba, assistant professor of financial planning, housing and consumer economics in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences

Dr. Kim Skobba has integrated service-learning coursework with her scholarly agenda relating to community housing. For instance, in Skobba’s HACE 5310/7310 class “Managing Government Assisted Housing,” her students collected oral histories with the last residents of the Jack. R. Wells public housing community in Athens before the redevelopment of this community. This project also led to scholarly papers using interview data to explore the experience of public housing relocation, and using student reflections to examine the impacts of service-learning on students’ perceptions of public housing. Her service-learning work has been published in several conference proceedings. She also teaches FHCE 4340S “Housing & Community Development,” which has led to a five-year grant from USDA to study how communities use social capital to address housing and community development needs, and will also support undergraduates in service-learning projects with Georgia communities. Skobba continues to collaborate with the College of Environment and Design and with the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing (GICH), and also co-taught a new service-learning course on “Green Building and the Tiny House Movement” in fall 2015. She was a Service-Learning Fellow in 2012-13, and has also been recognized with the 2014 Early Career Housing Award from the Housing Education and Research Association. Skobba was a 2014-16 Lilly Teaching Fellow, and is a 2016 Russell Teaching Award winner.

2014 Service-Learning Research Excellence Award Winner:

Peter Smagorinsky, distinguished research professor in the College of Education’s Department of Language and Literacy Education

Dr. Peter Smagorinsky has used service-learning to weave together a program of research, teaching and service relating to the preparation and support of future teachers of English. In addition to research presentations, book chapters, and journal articles on these topics, Smagorinsky co-edited a newly-released book, Service-learning in Literacy Education: Possibilities for Teaching and Learning (Information Age Publishing, 2014), the first-ever compilation dedicated to service-learning in teaching and learning literacy across a range of perspectives. Smagorinsky was previously recognized as a Service-Learning Fellow in 2007-08, and has developed and taught LLED 3461S/3461H, Service-Learning in Teacher Education, since 2008.

2011 Service-Learning Research Excellence Award Winner:

Su-I Hou, associate professor in Health Promotion and Behavior in the College of Public Health

Dr. Su-I Hou’s previous work with the Office of Service-Learning included service as a Senior Scholar from 2007-10 during which time she conducted an extensive benchmark study on service-learning adoption by UGA faculty. She published and presented extensively on multiple tracks relating to service-learning research and assessment, including the development and outcomes of a Faculty Service-Learning Beliefs Inventory assessing faculty members’ views of the benefits and barriers involved in service-learning pedagogy. This work resulted in an article published in the Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning. Another research strand focused on her service-learning with masters of public health students, including both faculty and student perceptions of the experience, as well as the development of a reliable tool for assessing students’ perceived self-efficacy in program planning. Finally, she developed community/campus partnerships relating to HIV/AIDS in conjunction with the Northeast Health District and other community agencies, and investigated and assessed the use of community-based participatory research addressing community health needs.