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Cabrini students and professors on a field trip

Melissa Terlecki, PhD

Chair and Associate 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.

Her contributions to the community have included working with the Crabby Creek Partnership on watershed restoration, and more recently on a project at the Norristown State Hospital.

There, she co-taught with Darryl Mace, PhD, on social justice issues revolving around the history of mental illness. Likewise, Terlecki has co-authored several interdisciplinary publications with her colleagues on community-based research.

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.

Other contributions include sponsoring annual free workshops to strengthen the skills of young women in math and science, areas in which they are underrepresented.

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 Institutional Review Board 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,  metacognition, and community-based research


  • Terlecki, M. & McMahon, A. (under review). A call for metacognitive intervention: Improvements due to curricular programming and training. Journal of Educational psychology.
  • 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. (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.
  • 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.

Awards and Recognition

  • Joseph A. Romano summer research grant, Cabrini University, 2016. Metacognition research with undergraduate Psychology student.
  • Faculty summer research grant, Cabrini College, 2015. Metacognition research.
  • Teagle Faculty Collegium Grant, SEPCHE (Creating Active Pathways to Student Learning; Teagle Foundation Grant), 2014
  • 1976 Hamilton Faculty Fellowship, Cabrini College, 2011. History of mental health and the Norristown State Hospital
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant; Kaplan, L., Aufdenkampe, A., Gill, S., & Newbold, J., Terlecki, M., 2009. 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. 

Vision. Impact. Growth.

Discover Cabrini University's strategic plan for diversification, sustainable growth, and expanded outreach.