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Teaching Experience

*designed/developed course, +led/implemented course redesign 

BSW Curriculum

Social Work & Oppressed Groups/ Power, Privilege, & Oppression (SLWK 311)+

TermsFall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

Course Description: Enhances understanding of and appreciation for diversity in self and others. Addresses issues of power, inequality, privilege and resulting oppression. Analyzes oppression resulting from persistent social, educational, political, religious, economic and legal inequalities. Focuses on the experiences of oppressed groups in the U.S. in order to understand their strengths, needs and responses. Uses a social justice perspective for the study of and practice with oppressed groups. 

👉🏼Student Evaluations: Mean rating of teaching effectiveness across nine evaluation criteria:  3.85/4 (n=99)


Foundations of Social Work Research II (SLWK 381)

Term: Spring 2018

Course Description: The course includes a review of basic statistical univariate and bivariate descriptive and inferential tools for analyzing, interpreting and presenting data for decision-making in generalist social work practice. It also introduces methods for analysis of quantitative and qualitative data and further develops critical-thinking skills in translating empirical research findings into generalist social work practice principles.

👉🏼Student Evaluations: Mean rating of teaching effectiveness across nine evaluation criteria:  3.61/4 (n=23)

Independent Study (SLWK 492), faculty sponsor

Course DescriptionUnder supervision of a faculty adviser, whose consent is required to register, study of a topic of concern to the student. Each student must present their findings in writing or pass an oral examination.


Spring 2020--Human-Animal Interactions Research III

Fall 2019--Human-Animal Interactions Research: Course II

Summer 2019--Human-Animal Interactions Research: Course I

Spring 2019--Examining Supports for Veterans Experiencing Homelessness: Course II

Fall 2018--Examining Supports for Veterans Experiencing Homelessness: Course I

Fall 2017--Developing a Fulbright Research Proposal (student was successful in receiving Fulbright award)

Spring 2017--Race, Ethnicity, and Childhood Trauma

Spring 2017--Teaching Power, Privilege, and Oppression

Fall 2016--Culturally-Specific Risk and Protective Factors for Trauma

Fall 2016--Critical Pedagogy 

Fall 2016--Pedagogy of Anti-Oppression

Spring 2016--Ethnocultural Variations in Trauma Symptomology

Spring 2016--Veterinary Social Work

Spring 2016--Pedagogy, Technology, & Social Work Education

Spring 2016--Intersectional Feminist Pedagogy

MSW Curriculum

Human-Animal Interactions Across the Lifespan (SLWK 791)*

Terms: Fall 2019, Fall 2020

Course DescriptionThis course explores the varied human-animal connections that emerge across the life span. Students will examine both typical and dysfunctional relations between humans and animals (e.g., children, animals, and empathy; animal welfare issues related to human welfare). The course focus will be on published research and evaluation studies and directions for future study and exploration. This course will provide an overview of contemporary scholarly thought and empirical research on human-animal connections from infancy through older adulthood. Students will address typical aspects of human-animal interaction across the lifespan through ecological/transactional, socio-emotional development, and cross-cultural lenses, to identify implications for social work practice, policy and research.

👉🏼Student Evaluations: Mean rating of teaching effectiveness across nine evaluation criteria:  3.84/4 (n=34)

Independent Study (SLWK 792), faculty sponsor

Course Description: An independent, in depth study, planned and undertaken by one to three students, mentored by a faculty member, of an area or problem not ordinarily included in the social work curriculum. Results of the study are presented in a report. The independent study provides a means for the student(s) to individualize learning needs and to pursue educational goals through intensive study of an area, issue, or problem selected by the student(s) in a manner not possible in regular courses in the curriculum.


Spring 2019--Victimization Research with Vulnerable Populations

Spring 2018--Animal-Assisted Interventions Research
Spring 2017--Trauma in Military Populations

Fall 2017--Service Dogs, Animal-Assisted Therapy, and Veterans

Fall 2017--Animal-Assisted Medical Social Work

Spring 2016--Family Violence, Animal Cruelty, & Child Health

Field Education Roles

Summer 2021: Task Supervisor (Placement: CFAR Group)

Spring 2020: Task Supervisor (Placement: Richmond SCAN [Stop Child Abuse Now] /Pets & Families Study)

Fall 2019: Task Supervisor (Placement: Richmond SCAN [Stop Child Abuse Now] /Pets & Families Study)

PHD curric

PhD Curriculum 

Measurement in Social and Behavioral Sciences (SWKD 716)*

Term: Spring 2019, Spring 2020

Course Description: This course introduces students to the importance of measurement in scientific inquiry, and will emphasize the core concepts and technical skills needed to evaluate the quality of social and behavioral measures. Students will review basic principles and procedures of measurement theory and learn practical, usable research skills through hands-on experience in developing and evaluating a measure. Students will review and discuss content on classical test and item response theories and their application to instrument development and validation. They will learn to operationalize latent variables in conceptual models and use theoretical and practical knowledge to generate items, develop and format questions, and begin to construct a scale that can be tested for reliability and validity. Students will also learn how to minimize and address threats to the utility and validity of their measure (e.g., respondent bias, measurement error). This course will examine advanced methods for testing psychometric properties of measures, including reliability statistics, confirmatory and exploratory factor analysis and IRT analysis.

👉🏼Student Evaluations:  Mean rating of teaching effectiveness across seven evaluation criteria:  4.0/4 (n=5)

Note: Evaluations reflect 2019 only (not collected in 2021 due to COVID-19 pandemic).

Academic Writing: Effective Writing, Manuscript Preparation and Publication (SWKD 728)+

Term: Summer 2020

Course Description: This course provides the opportunity for doctoral students to enhance and refine the academic writing skills necessary for productive social work scholarship. The course focuses on understanding and mastering the structure, process and elements of high-quality academic writing as well as respectful and helpful reviewing. Students will especially examine scholarly writing in and for journal articles, books, book reviews and doctoral dissertations. Students will be exposed to the literature on the “how tos” of scholarly writing itself and develop their own skills in being a juror/professional reviewer. Special emphasis is placed on the development of an intellectual community in which excellence in written expression is valued. The explicit goal is established that each student should use the course to prepare one or more scholarly products during the course related to their substantive area.

👉🏼Student Evaluations:  Mean rating of teaching effectiveness across seven evaluation criteria:  3.84/4 (n=11)

Directed Research / Independent Study (SWKD 797)

Course Description: The course provides doctoral students the opportunity to do hands-on research prior to the dissertation project that is relevant to their substantive area or individual learning needs. The topic and specific project will be initiated by the student and implemented in collaboration with a School of Social Work faculty member. A proposal for a directed research course must be submitted that specifies how the student will gain experience, knowledge and skills in one or more aspects of conducting a research project, including conceptualization of the question; development of a graphic or visual schema; measurement design and/or instrument development; qualitative, quantitative or mixed-methods research design and implementation; data collection or data management; data analysis; and dissemination of findings. Students may create their own project or dovetail with existing student or faculty projects.


Summer 2019: Structural Equation Modeling

Spring 2020: Mixture Modeling

Summer 2021: Developing an NICHD F31 Proposal

A list of adjunct teaching experiences and courses taught can be found in my CV.

Student Feedback

What students said about SLWK 311 ...

"I absolutely love this class. There was not a time where I did not feel like I was welcomed to speak whatever I felt like I wanted to say. Thanks to Shelby, she helped make this class more like a family. Shelby always taught the class in a manner that had us all involved and engaging. There was never a time where I sat there thinking to myself, "Why are we learning this?" Everything that was taught has helped me branch out in becoming a better person, and even better, a step closer to becoming an efficient social worker."
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What students said about SLWK 381 ...

"I have had the pleasure of having Shelby for two social work classes. One of the main things I enjoy about her classes is that she truly goes above and beyond for all of her students. This semester I would say she demonstrated a substantial amount of patience with her students, considering the fact that Research is not always the ideal class. She definitely did an amazing job of translating the information in a way that we could comprehend it and she also made sure we received enough hands on practice with the SPSS system which help us apply the information she was teaching in her lectures. Shelby also provided us with lectures slides in addition to detailed notes on how to maneuver through the SPSS system. Any piece of information she felt would be beneficial for her student success, she shared it. She provided extra credit opportunities that also required us to apply our social work skills that we have acquired thus far, She really wants all of her students to succeed and do great work in this field."​

What students said about SLWK 791...

​"Dr. McDonald is so enthusiastic about this subject which made the class exciting and fun. She created a really safe space to discuss HAI. I really enjoyed the content of this course, the way that we were able to cover so many different topics in this class and have several different ways of engaging with the material. The guest speakers were really wonderful and the varied readings and videos we were asked to cover provided a lot of insight into the current issues the field is facing and how research and changing perspectives had led us to this moment. Dr. McDonald did a great job at tying in social justice and the One Health perspective throughout the course, and using the material to talk about oppression/oppressive systems, ways to recognize this and how one might fight against them. Dr. McDonald has also done an amazing job at holding space for all of us during the pandemic and has done the most of any professor I've had to make it clear that these are not normal times and that it's ok to feel like we need to take a gentler approach sometimes. I feel like I learned more in this class because we were able to treat ourselves with more compassion in the process because Dr. McDonald set the tone of the class to make space for that."

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What students said about SWKD 716...

"This course was very well organized from beginning to end, demonstrating the thoughtfulness of the instructor as this course was developed. The instructor was exceptionally considerate of the learning needs of students who all expressly had no experience in measurement development at all, and this was evidenced by the amount of time spent meeting with students/groups (for a collaborative student project) outside of class. This course introduced the process of measurement development, and the accompanying statistical procedures, in a comprehensive, coherent, and practical manner, and has thus stimulated in my interest in exploring and applying this topic more in my own area of research. Lastly, while sometimes quite challenging, the course assignments felt useful (as opposed to oppressive or punitive) to my learning and left me feeling empowered and intelligent regarding the subject matter."

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What students said about SWKD 728...

"This class is very time–intensive and short. It was very clear that Shelby was committed to providing everyone with as much feedback and support as possible to improve our academic writing and to develop a final product (e.g., publishable paper, grant). She was also willing to tailor the class to our learning needs (e.g., limited the readings assigned & tailored those to individual interests) and was flexible with assignments given the current climate this summer due to COVID and the anti–black racism and subsequent protests that occurred. Also, I think Shelby's record of publications and experience writing successful grant applications was helpful because it allowed her to be able to teach from her experience and answer questions related to the publishing and grant–writing process. This is a class that challenges (due to the peer–review process) and so having an instructor that has good student rapport and is genuinely concerned about student success is critical."

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