Professor transforms educational landscape within research initiatives

November 13, 2023

Professor Jennifer Dauphinais smiles in a black jacket and black and white polka dotted shirt.

Jennifer Dauphinais, MAT ’10, is devoted to challenging the overlooked dynamics in the classroom and researching interdisciplinary aspects of education.

“As a clinical instructor and critical researcher, I work directly with pre-service and in-service educators to grapple with our changing national landscape," said Dauphinais, assistant teaching professor of education and coordinator of the social emotional learning and climate program at Quinnipiac. “I inquire about how these changes impact the teacher and student relationship, along with the pressing need for self-awareness and self-care on all sides."

Their work as a curriculum studies researcher focuses on a keen understanding of curricular history alongside the social and political trends society currently faces. While teaching kindergarten through 12th grade, Dauphinais noticed the challenges of working in under-resourced schools, leading them to discover many flaws in teacher training.

“Teachers are shouldered with amending the failures of the education system they serve, while simultaneously being deprofessionalized and pulled between competing agendas,” said Dauphinais. “As these issues became clearer to me in my early career, I felt increasingly stuck, but also compelled to seek a community where these conversations were allowable and open for exchange.”

Teachers and students are automatically positioned into superior and subordinate power-dynamic, they explained. Through their courses, they urge Quinnipiac students and colleagues to question concepts like grit, tiered discipline policies, character education, desegregation grants, and turn-around models, as well as consider how such highly politicized discourses are mobilized to substantiate initiatives like social-emotional learning curricula and character education.

In addition to the social emotional learning and school climate certificate program on campus, they have developed and will lead class sessions regarding core practices for improving school climate that can be taken for micro-credentials. The knowledge within these courses aims to provide professional development for school districts.

Their work has been published and has become more visible since completing their doctorate. Dauphinais served as the Essential Learning Outcomes Fellow for Social and Emotional Intelligence, at Quinnipiac in 2010, along with being awarded the Quinnipiac University Faculty Scholar Award for the School of Education this year. They were invited to speak at the inclusive excellence summer assembly this past summer. Their presentation centered on the curricular outcomes and individuals that educational policies and curricula seek to create through the strategic and ideological discourse they promote.

The dedication Dauphinais has to educating students, faculty and the public on mental health in the classroom profoundly impacts the Quinnipiac community. They looked back on how beneficial it would have been during their youth to learn from the research conducted now.

“I attended a visual and performing arts high school in New Haven, which changed my life because that program better fit the kind of student I was,” Dauphinais said. “I remember reflecting on that schooling model while working in marketing and thinking what if school was like that for every kid, not just kids who have a special interest in a certain subject. So, I put my art and performance background, as well as my marketing experience, to great use in the classroom, where my teaching style leaned more toward hands-on, creative, and emotionally supportive learning environments for all of my students.”

Not only do they spend most of their time teaching and researching, but they also actively contribute to the New Haven music scene. From playing in bands to dancing to acting, Dauphinais loves to perform. Their passion for creativity in the arts and advocacy in the classroom is unique and extremely influential here at Quinnipiac.

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