Hauser: Integrated approach

Winning a Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching is the kind of feedback that can make a great teacher even better. It lets professors like Peter Hauser, a 2005 award recipient, know they’re on the right track.
“To have a group of administrators, faculty, staff and students evaluate me and tell me that they are pleased with my teaching is very reinforcing,” Hauser says. “The award provides me with some verification that I must be doing something right.”

And by all accounts he is.

Hauser, a clinical neuropsychologist and assistant professor of psychology, joined RIT’s College of Liberal Arts in 2002. Prior to his appointment, he had completed a clinical neuropsychology post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Rochester School of Medicine.

Since arriving at RIT, Hauser has wasted no time. With several publications to his name—at least three in press—and a lengthy list of presentations, he actively pursues his passion: American Sign Language neurolinguistics.

To excite and involve students in his research, Hauser created his own laboratory on campus, the Deaf Studies Laboratory. DSL is an interdisciplinary student-oriented lab that brings together COLA students and their peers from the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences. Together, they collaborate on projects that combine Internet-based programs and software to collect and analyze data for behavioral studies. The lab also collaborates with the Bavelier Laboratory in the UR’s brain and cognitive science program.

Students working at DSL are involved in such studies as the impact of sign language experience and auditory deprivation on visual perception, attention and memory; identity, culture, prejudice and mental health; the validity of psychological assessment instruments given to deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals; and an assessment of American Sign Language.

“DSL members present their work at weekly lab meetings,” Hauser says. “This helps students develop a better understanding of various research methods, data analyses and how to formally present research findings.”

Hauser, who became profoundly deaf at age five, appreciates “the differences as well as the similarities of peoples’ lives and identities.” He credits that awareness with his ease in relating to and learning from others.
He brings this perspective to the classroom where most of his classes are a combination of deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing students. Two interpreters voice what he says in class while he signs in ASL.

“I work closely with my interpreters to ensure that communication is effective,” he says. “I hope that this teaches the deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing students how to communicate with each other effectively. We have great discussions in class, which provides some experiential learning of pluralism.”

Hauser emphasizes diversity, innovation and experiential learning in his classroom teaching. “When I teach, I usually give both deaf and hearing examples,” he says. “I try to include everyone. This causes some dialogue among the students. I believe this assists them in learning about diversity, various perspectives and real applications of the principles and theories discussed in class.”

Hauser lives in Rochester with his wife, three dogs and two cats. The Hausers are expecting their first child this summer.

The Richard and Virginia Eisenhart Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching recognizes faculty members who have taught three years or less and who pursue excellence in teaching and leadership, nurture the academic climate that fosters teaching at its best, and enhance teaching as a profession. There are two award winners this year.

RIT News & Events, May 13, 2005