Pioneer Spotlight: Dr. Marc Wruble
Dr. Marc K. Wruble has been a professor of psychology at UW-Platteville since 1993. As chairperson of UW-Platteville’s Sexual Assault Awareness Committee from 2008 to 2015, he was instrumental in helping the university adopt bystander intervention training for students and staff to reduce the rate of sexual assault on campus.
Wruble is also a licensed child and family clinical psychologist and the director of the Platteville Family Resource Center Inc., where he has worked with children, families and adults for 24 years. In addition, he is an expert witness in four states and numerous counties, with an emphasis on forensic evaluations.
In his spare time, he has adventures with his family and friends, is a competitive amateur cyclist, gardens, makes rustic furniture and lives life to the fullest.
What do you enjoy most about teaching and what is your teaching philosophy?
I enjoy connecting with students and showing them that learning is filled with fun, wonder, critical thinking and curiosity. I enjoy creating a learning community that helps them love learning and themselves, and to be active, engaged and respectful citizens in and out of the classroom.
I use the contemplative education model that helps them build wisdom and character through reflection, awareness and personal responsibility. I endeavor to bring life to learning and learning to life. I use the “talk, show, do” method to teach them about the subject matter by identifying and applying examples in their lives. I enjoy partnering with students so that I can tailor my teaching style to teach them life lessons and skills, such as emotional regulation and distress tolerance, as well as communication/interpersonal skills. I also teach them evidence-based skills (e.g., mindfulness, meditation, etc.) to be kind, caring, compassionate and accepting people and citizens.
How do you help students become more actively engaged in learning?
Many students spend much of their free time using “screen time.” I attempt to compensate for the known negative emotional and social effects of screen time by giving them skills to connect with themselves, each other and nature. I hold classes outside as much as possible for these reasons. I also do “five minutes” of fun each class, including playing topically relevant music and other student-led activities. Students tell me it helps them be more engaged and focused in class.
What are a few of the most pressing issues/challenges that university students face?
In my opinion, our students are challenged to focus on their academic achievement while trying to balance numerous distractions (social media, TV, Netflix, videogames) in the context of an increasingly competitive global workplace. iTechnology has provided unprecedented access to each other's lives and revolutionized society, but also has the potential to compromise our civil liberties and rights, make us more emotionally callous and un-empathetic, disconnect us from ourselves and each other, become more intolerant and judgmental and promote selfishness. Students have more stress and demands on their limited time, but often have not developed healthy coping skills to build their resilience to effectively meet the challenges of being a student in the 21st century.
How do you balance your work as a licensed child and family clinical psychologist with your work at the university and how does it intersect?
My clinical education is as a scientist-practitioner, which means that my knowledge of academic research informs my clinical work and my clinical work informs my teaching and research interests. For example, I developed the Psychology of iTechnology class because I was seeing the negative effects of iTechnology in my patients and I wanted to use research to better understand the effects and help them use technology in a healthy and productive manner.
What is challenging and rewarding about your work with the Platteville Family Resource Center and how do you connect with and build trust in those you counsel?
I am fortunate to work with caring, compassionate, dedicated, competent and highly skilled co-workers at the Platteville Family Resource Center. I care deeply for my UW-Platteville students and the patients at PFRC. That passion makes the work seem less like work. The main challenges come from maintaining a high standard of patient care while satisfying the competing demands of insurance companies and state regulations. The latter documentation requirements decrease our time with patients.
I connect with and build trust in those I counsel by following a few simple principles: treat them with compassion and caring, understand before I try to be understood, meet them where they are, speak their language, give honest answers, remind them we all have inherent worth as human beings, be real/vulnerable, build on their strengths, develop an equal partnership to accomplish their goals and treat themselves and myself with love, dignity and respect.
Interview conducted by Laurie A. Hamer, UW-Platteville College of Liberal Arts and Education. To nominate someone for the Pioneer Spotlight, email firstname.lastname@example.org.