Social Work Faculty Receives Excellence in Online Teaching Award

Brenda Legaspi

Assistant Teaching Professor Brenda Legaspi was awarded a 2023-2024 Excellence in Online Teaching Award from Florida State University for her exemplary teaching approach through the College of Social Work’s Online MSW Program

“I am truly honored to receive this award,” she shared. “As a child of two teachers, the value of education and the importance of a strong work ethic with a commitment to serving others was instilled early on.”

As a social worker with more than 20 years in the field, she served as a clinical social worker with diverse populations, including older adults, veterans, people experiencing terminal illness, and children and families. Her social work career has included roles in grief counseling, gerontological social work, end-of-life care, and medical social work.  Legaspi began teaching as an adjunct for the University of Central Florida’s School of Social Work in 2008.

“I remember thinking about how I learn best and what keeps me engaged when learning a new topic or skill,” she recalled. “That meant using a variety of teaching methods. I tried a little bit of everything, and on the last day of class, the students gave me a standing ovation. I was shocked and humbled, but at the same time, it lit a fire in me that has sustained me over the last 15 years of teaching.”

Since her start in teaching social work courses, Legaspi has explored a variety of teaching methods and techniques, noting the most significant impact came from the Quality Matters certification process. Quality Matters emphasizes the importance of tailoring course content for diverse learners and those with learning differences and special needs. The Quality Matters certification also stresses the need for a course to flow seamlessly from learning objects to course outcomes through meaningful assignments and assessments that help students and instructors gauge the learning process throughout a course.

“With that training, I have revised my online courses to ensure I accomplish what I want most- for students to enjoy learning while meeting course objectives,” expressed Legaspi. Even more critical than course design for her is connecting with her students. 

“Similar to the client/clinician therapeutic relationship, it is important to me to build a relationship with each student to ensure they feel heard, seen, and valued,” she elucidated. 

This focus on connection also aligns with what Legaspi enjoys most about teaching. “What I love about teaching online is the opportunity to facilitate meaningful discussion of the course material with students, where they are receiving feedback not only from me but from their peers as well,” she shared.

Legaspi acknowledges that keeping students engaged in an asynchronous, virtual learning environment is challenging, but that provides an opportunity for innovative teaching approaches with passionate and diverse students who are eager to learn.

“We get the best students, who are there because they really want to be, and they put in the hard work to make the most of their education,” she stressed. “We also have the opportunity to serve students from across the country, which brings such wonderful diversity to our classes.”

Legaspi joined the FSU College of Social Work faculty in 2020 as an Assistant Teaching Professor. She is also a field faculty member at the college, supporting the Office of Field Education by coordinating internships for out-of-state students in the Online MSW Program. Legaspi is a licensed clinical social worker and qualified supervisor in the State of Florida. In her spare time, she also enjoys volunteering in her community. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2024 - 10:18 AM
Last updated: Fri, 06/14/2024 - 03:28 PM