Q&A with Award-winning Professor Jaclyn Jensen

Professor Jaclyn Jensen
Recent high-profile cases of workplace sexual harassment and bullying have raised questions about how business organizations can foster more respectful work environments. 
Jaclyn Jensen is at the forefront of exploring these issues as a researcher who probes why such behavior happens and as an associate professor of management who teaches DePaul business students the best practices in human resources.

A native of Cleveland, Jensen applies her doctoral degree training in organizational psychology to her work at DePaul, where she has been a member of the faculty since 2012. This past fall, DePaul honored Jensen with an Excellence in Teaching Award. 

In the Q&A below, Jensen talks about the impact of her teaching and research at DePaul’s Driehaus College of Business.

What made you decide to become a business professor?

When I started college, I was really hoping to go to medical school to become a psychiatrist, but ran into some difficulty in organic chemistry and my med school dreams came to a quick end. I guess I can say that I’m now grateful for that C-!

I then thought about becoming a clinical psychologist, but upon taking a psychopathology class I realized that I was not necessarily interested in working in a therapeutic environment. Around the same time I took a class on organizational psychology, and also became the undergraduate representative on the University’s Board of Trustees. These experiences opened my eyes to the blend of psychology and business in organizations, and the need to be really thoughtful about people and human resources at work. It prompted me to pursue grad school in organizational psychology.

During my graduate studies at Michigan State, I had the opportunity to teach an undergraduate statistics course, and really liked being in the classroom. I got involved in a number of research projects around fairness and respect in the workplace, and learned a lot from my faculty mentors who made me want to pursue a path as a business school professor.

What have been your most interesting research findings?

My interest in this topic is fueled by a real desire for others (mainly women) to never be in a situation where they are treated in anything less than a respectful manner, and to help victims find proper recourse to preventing mistreatment in the future.

To that end, my work on incivility and harassment has investigated why employees are mistreated by their coworkers and bosses, how mistreatment affects victimized employees' job attitudes and behaviors, and what bystanders and leaders can do to try and stop mistreatment from occurring.

The insights I've found suggest that employees are targeted when they are both exceptional as well as poor performers (but for very different reasons); that hostility can be veiled as negative feedback; and that while difficult to do, bystanders report a willingness to help when they see good performers targeted with uncivil acts. Ethical leaders who hold their employees accountable for their actions also can really help deter incivility, even when competitive pressure to perform might cause interpersonal conflict and stress.

What is your teaching philosophy?

At the center of my research is how critically important it is for employees to feel respected at their workplace, and in turn, for employees to be considerate of others. I find this same philosophy to be true in my classroom and I work to communicate respect.

From the first day of class I establish a contract with my students that is grounded in mutual accountability, including clear expectations (both what I expect of the students, and what they can expect of me).

The second component of my teaching philosophy is active learning and student engagement. The classes I enjoyed most as a student were the courses where the professors challenged students to be involved in class, articulate opinions, question thoughts and be deeply engaged in the learning process.

To me, learning is a process that requires students to take personal responsibility for their learning rather than relying solely on me (as the instructor) to deliver the material to them. At the same time, a key aspect of discussion-based learning is that you learn from others as much as they learn from you. Thus, I really work to emphasize the importance of contributing, listening, and thinking throughout class.

What do you like best about DePaul’s business school and its students?

DePaul’s students are among the most diverse I've ever taught. The differences in background, experiences and perspectives make for a very rich and engaging classroom environment. I appreciate when students readily share their perspectives in class. Because a large percentage of our students are currently working, the content is directly and immediately relevant to their work, which is important.


Learn more about majoring in business and graduate business programs at DePaul.​​​​