Dr. Lori Gano-Overway
Department of Health and Human Sciences
For Dr. Lori Gano-Overway, scholarship is about answering questions that may help others.
“As a college student, an athlete and a practitioner – that is, a former human resource manager, former coach and current faculty member – I have always been curious about what motivates people to strive for excellence and how practitioners can motivate others and help them develop life skills,” said Gano-Overway, an associate professor of health and human sciences at Bridgewater. “Therefore, I see the purpose of my scholarship as a way to help myself and others become better teachers and coaches.”
This, she pointed out, is why she has explored the climate that coaches and teachers create that can motivate others. Additionally, through her experiences in sport, she recognizes that time spent in sport and physical education can be a powerful tool to help young people develop important life skills.
“Therefore, I have also been keenly interested in exploring how teachers and coaches create positive experiences for their students and athletes,” said Gano-Overway. “I hope that, in some small way, this type of research will help them develop more effective ways to motivate others and create positive experience for others.”
In fact, her research has helped build evidence for the usefulness of creating a climate that focuses on recognizing effort and improvement, learning from one’s mistakes and being kind and respectful to others.
Gano-Overway said she also feels that collaboration is vital to scholarship.
“I have grown so much as a scholar by working with and learning from other scholars in our field” she said. “For the past 10 years I have worked with the Achievement Motivation Research Group, in which we meet annually to share our current research project ideas, provide feedback and work collaboratively on research projects and applied projects.”
She added that her scholarship has also benefited from talking with faculty who are outside of her discipline and research areas, a process which helps her think more broadly about her research and make connections with other disciplines.
Gano-Overway, who is a native of Michigan, graduated from Hope College in Holland, Mich., in 1991, and earned her master’s degree in health, kinesiology and leisure studies with an emphasis in sport and exercise psychology in 1995 from Purdue University.
In 2001 she earned her Ph.D. from Michigan State University, focusing on the psychological aspects of physical activity. A prolific researcher, writer and presenter Gano-Overway has taught at Bridgewater since 2003 and, in 2011, was presented the Martha B. Thornton Faculty Recognition Award. In 2013 she received the College’s Faculty Scholarship Award.