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Professor Missy Terlecki in class

Melissa Terlecki, PhD


Chair and Professor, Psychology

 The pedagogy of Melissa Terlecki, PhD, involves immersing students in an interactive, fluid learning environment. In the classroom, she fosters a comfortable, engaging atmosphere where students feel free to share, discuss, laugh, and think critically.

Terlecki believes strongly in the value of working to better the community, and spends a great deal of time volunteering with organizations aimed at making a positive impact. Terlecki has co-authored several interdisciplinary publications with her colleagues on community-based research. These works include creating courses and publications around watershed restoration and the history of mental health in Norristown, PA and other surrounding areas.

As an author, she has presented and published numerous articles and a book on training in spatial ability (including videogaming) and closing the gender gap. Her most recent efforts involve building a new leadership program at Cabrini University, with a focus on metacognition.

As a workshop presenter and course instructor, she engages students, faculty, and staff in metacognitive techniques and provides pedagogical tools to utilize both inside and outside of the classroom.

Terlecki also volunteers for numerous organizations, committees, and fundraisers throughout the year, including serving on the Editorial Board of Sex Roles: A Journal of Research. She also serves as the current Chair of the Psychology Department and Co-Director of the Nerney Leadership Institute at Cabrini.

Terlecki earned her doctoral degree in Cognitive Psychology with a specialization in Neuroscience from Temple University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from The College of New Jersey.

Areas of Expertise

Spatial ability and gender,  videogaming, metacognition, and community-based research


  • Terlecki, M. , Kirschner, M. & Rodriguez, S., Adefarati, O. (2018; in preparation). The effects of instruction and maturity on metacognition.
  • Terlecki, M. & McMahon, A. (2018). A call for metacognitive intervention: Improvements due to curricular programming and training. Journal of Leadership Education, 17(4), doi:10.12806/V17/I4/R8
  • Dunbar, D., Nielsen, C., Watterson, N., Xu, J., Terlecki, M., Cardone, J., Ratmansky, L., Medved, C., Gill, S., & Owens, O. (2014). A cost benefit analysis from instructor, community partner, and student perspectives: Cabrini College CBR courses merge service, education, and research. Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship, 7(1), 25-36.
  • Moy, B., O’Sullivan, G., Terlecki, M. & Jernstedt, C. (2014). Building faculty capacity through the learning sciences. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning (Mar/Apr), doi: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00091383.2014.896710 
  • Dunbar, D., Terlecki, M., Waterson, N., & Ratmansky, L. (2013). An honors interdisciplinary community-based research course, Honors in Practice, 9, 129-141.
  • Watterson, N., Dunbar, D. Terlecki, M. Nielsen, C. Ratmansky, L. Persichetti, A. Travers, K., & Gill, S. (2012). Interdisciplinary community-based research: A sum of disparate parts.
    Journal of Community and Higher Education, 3(1), 1-10.  
  • Terlecki, M., Newcombe, N., & Little, M. (2011). Durable and generalized effects of spatial
    experience on mental rotation: Gender differences in growth patterns, Applied Cognitive Psychology; Special Issue Celebrating 25 years of Applied Cognitive Psychology, 25(S1), 253-271. doi: 10.1002/acp.1774
  • Terlecki, M. & Newcombe, N. (2011). The Survey of Spatial Representation and Activities  (SSRA), PsycTESTS.
  • Terlecki, M., Brown, J., Harner-Steciw, L., Irvin-Hannum, J., Marchetto-Ryan, N., Ruhl, L. & Wiggins, J. (2010). Sex differences and similarities in video game experience, preferences, and self-efficacy: Implications for the gaming industry. Current Psychology, 30(1), 22-33. doi: 10.1007/s12144-010-9095-5 
  • Terlecki, M., Dunbar, D., Nielsen, C., McGauley, C., Ratmasky, L., Waterson, N., Hannum, J., Seidler, K., Bongiorno, E., Owens, O., Goodman, P., Marshall, C., Gill, S., Travers, K., & Jackson, J. (2010). The Crabby Creek initiative: Building and sustaining an interdisciplinary partnership, Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship,3, 40-50.
  • Terlecki, M. (2008). The effects of long-term practice and training on mental rotation. Saarbrucken, Deutschland: Verlag VDM Publishing.


  • Terlecki, M. & McMahon, A. (2017, July). A call for metacognitive intervention: Improvements due to curricular programming and training. Research talk presented at the Association of Leadership Educators Conference. Charleston, SC.
  • Terlecki, M. & McMahon, A. (2017, April). A call for metacognitive intervention: Improvements due to curricular programming and training. Cabrini Arts, Research and Scholarship Symposium. Radnor, PA.
  • Terlecki, M. (2015, April). Methods in metacognition: Neuroscience for faculty. Keynote presentation at the Community College of Beaver County Faculty Development Workshop. Pittsburgh, PA.
  • Terlecki, M. & Colbry, S. (2015, March). Methods in metacognition: Overcoming resistance and increasing engagement. SEPCHE Adjunct faculty workshop. Cabrini College, PA.
  • Terlecki, M., Smith, T. & Smith, J. (2014, Novemeber). IRB Lunch and Learn Workshop
    Workshop presented as part of Cabrini College faculty development program. Cabrini College, PA.
  • Colbry, S., Filippone, A., Womack, V., Terlecki, M., & Gebauer, R. (2014, October). Don’t go it alone: Designing a leadership living and learning community as a collaborative effort. Workshop presented at the International Leadership Association Conference. San Diego, CA.
  • Terlecki, M. & Colbry, S. (2014, October). Methods in metacognition: Overcoming resistance and increasing engagement. Education Adjunct faculty workshop. Cabrini College, PA.
  • Terlecki, M. & Colbry, S. (2014, October). Methods in metacognition: Overcoming resistance and increasing engagement. Adjunct faculty workshop presented across 8 Southeastern Pennsylvania Consortium of Higher Education (SEPCHE) schools. Cabrini College, PA.
  • Wilson, L. & Terlecki, M. (2014, June). Keeping the garage door open: implications of neuroscience and learning. Keynote address and workshop presented at Community College of Allegheny County, Pittsburgh, PA.
  • Maggitti, S. & Terlecki, M. (2014, May). Grounding the helicopter: Empowering students to be adults. Workshop presented as part of Cabrini College faculty development program. Cabrini College, PA.
  • Terlecki, M. (2014, May). Trait approach to leadership. Workshop presented at Leadership Now Building critical leadership skills program as part of Tuesdays at the Chamber, Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. Philadelphia, PA.
  • Wilson, L. & Terlecki, M. (2013, October). How the brain learns: Implications for teaching and learning. Online seminar. Magna Publications.
  • Wilson, L. Terlecki, M. & Owen, L. (2013, May). Keeping the garage door open: Understanding and applying concepts of neuroscience to teaching and learning in the higher education classroom. Symposium presented at the Teaching Professors Conference, New Orleans, LA.


Awards and Recognition

  • Harry Kirke Wolfe Invited Lecturer (2020) - American Psychological Association, Division II Society for the Teaching of Psychology
  • Distinguished Faculty Award for Internal Service – Cabrini University (Spring, 2018)
  • Charles R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching (2017)
  • Joseph A. Romano Summer Research Grant  Cabrini University (2016): Metacognition longitudinal research with undergraduate student, Anne McMahon
  • Faculty Summer Research Grant – Cabrini College (2015): Metacognition research collaboration with faculty in UK
  • Teagle Faculty Collegium Grant – SEPCHE (2014): Creating Active Pathways to Student Learning (Teagle Foundation Grant)
  • 1976 Hamilton Faculty Fellowship (2011): History of Mental health and the Norristown State Mental Hospital (Course development and community-based undergraduate research)
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant:  Kaplan, L., Aufdenkampe, A., Gill, S., & Newbold, J. (2009). Melissa Terlecki (Consultant/Evaluator). Integrating the carbon and water cycles within an ecosystem esthetic approach to landscapes. DRL; Informal Science Education grant.
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant:  Dunbar, D., Terlecki, M., Nielsen, C. & Gill, S. (2009). Watershed citizenship learning community. NSF CCLI; Phase I STEM grant.
  • Teagle Faculty Collegium Grant– SEPCHE (2008): Creating Active Pathways to Student Learning (Teagle Foundation Grant)