UTHSCSA Faculty Profiles v1.0

Ortega, Catherine

School of Health Professions
Physical Therapy
(210) 567-8755
ortegac2@uthscsa.edu

I believe that learning is a life-long process. This statement may not be original but is in line with how I have lived my life. I find that I invariably use my resources and experiences to try to learn something. I like learning but also sharing that learning, whether it be in the clinical setting or the classroom setting. I am a natural teacher and did not realize it until coming into this environment. I am glad that I waited this late in my life to teach. As a trilingual, Latina working internationally in the area of sports medicine and health promotion for over 15 years, I feel that I have much to say and insights to share about commonalities between cultures and approaches to learning strategies.
Attaining a doctorate in education has made me a flexible faculty member, able to teach competently along a broad spectrum of courses. I feel that I bring the application of theory and science to the classroom. It is interesting to me that teaching here at the Health Science Center has made me a better clinician. I have also attained a better understanding of myself as a communicator and a scholar. My students "keep me honest" in that they help me identify areas where I can improve while also appreciating areas where I have communicated my knowledge and expertise effectively. Therefore, learning and teaching occur as I believe they should, as reciprocal processes of improvement for both me as the teacher and for my students.
John Dewey stated that "learning is life, not just preparation for life". My teaching philosophy is grounded in the belief that a student is an individual that must be able to pursue knowledge independent of the teacher. As a result of mentors I have had, I find that I do not like to feed students information. I prefer to have them participate and take responsibility for their learning. It is not unusual for me to guide students to "un-learn" teacher reliance. This can be uncomfortable for both them and me, as I challenge myself to do more than just stand in front of a room and lecture. It can be uncomfortable for them because I like causing a bit of chaos with their thinking. I believe it is helpful to create that cognitive dissonance that will nudge them to find answers that they will remember. In this way, they learn how to learn--for me this is the essence of attaining an education and the guidance with this is the role of a teacher.

11/2002 - Present Tenured Associate Professor University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Physical Therapy, San Antonio, TX