Dr. Westmoreland is an Associate Professor who currently teaches courses in the Department of Biology at Texas Woman’s University (TWU). She also directs the TWU graduate and undergraduate Science Teacher Education Programs at TWU. She has had experience with designing and promoting active engagement and inquiry teaching and learning methods to ensure success for students and faculty in both K-12 public schools and in post-secondary university settings. In her role as the chairman of the Institutional Improvement Committee for the Biology Department, Dr. Westmoreland has collaborated with faculty to expand and improve the methods of assessing the Biology program’s effectiveness.
Some of Dr. Westmoreland’s honors and awards include Senior Fellowship in the Higher Education Academy, the Distinction in Teaching Award for TWU, and the Excellence in Teaching Award granted by Sigma Alpha Pi, National Society of Leadership and Success. Dr. Westmoreland received the Quest for Quality: Teacher Preparation in Texas, Curriculum Enhancement Initiative Award sponsored by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for the design of an innovative inquiry science education curriculum entitled “Shifting from Cookbook to Inquiry”. In addition, Dr. Westmoreland has served as President for the Texas Society for Microscopy and as a mentor in the Pioneer Teaching and Learning Academy at TWU. She has also been elected to membership in the Scientific Research Honor Society, Sigma Xi.
Dr. Westmoreland, along with her colleague, Dr. Camelia Maier, was awarded a Teaching and Research for Equipment and Technology (TARGET) Grant, which allowed them to purchase a Hitachi tabletop scanning electron microscope to promote student engagement in applied scientific research, reinforcing the values of the TWU Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) “learn by doing”.
Dr. Westmoreland also received, with her associate Dr. Tina Gumienny, an Innovation Fund award from TWU, for their proposal entitled, “Increasing Retention in Large Enrollment Undergraduate Courses by Preparing Faculty to Use Active Engagement Teaching and Learning Strategies.” This award enabled them to create an Active Engagement Academy at TWU to train faculty to implement active engagement teaching and learning methods, resulting in significant changes in student passing rates.
One area of Dr. Westmoreland’s research focuses on the assessment of the effectiveness of teaching and learning methods in promoting critical thinking in the college science classroom. She has introduced Team-Based Learning to her own classes and has conducted research to determine the effectiveness of this teaching and learning method on increasing students’ content knowledge and critical thinking skills.