Dr. Gardner is an Assistant Professor, Associate Director of Education, and Director of Surgical Education Research for the Department of Surgery. She helps provide guidance on the educational mission for the department as it relates to curriculum and assessment for students, residents, fellows, and faculty. She also helps lead simulation and research activities through the Southwestern Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery (SCMIS)

Prior to joining the University of Texas Southwestern, Dr. Gardner served as a Training and Research Consultant in the Center for Simulation and Integrated Healthcare Education (CSIHE) at the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron, OH. She received her MA and PhD in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from the University of Akron in Akron, OH, one of the highest rated and most respected I-O programs in the nation.  

Dr. Gardner is the Vice Chair of the Curriculum Committee for the American College of Surgeons – Accredited Educational Institutes, Vice Chair of the Simulation Committee for the Association for Surgical Education, and serves on various committees for the Society of Simulation in Healthcare, Association for Surgical Education, and the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons. Dr. Gardner is the author of numerous peer-reviewed publications in leading medical education and surgery journals, covering topics of simulation, educational interventions, faculty development, and other practices in learning and development.  


University of Arkansas-Fayette (2008), Psychology
Graduate School
University of Akron (2010), Psychology
Graduate School
University of Akron (2013), Psychology

Research Interest

  • Design and evaluation of residency program curricula
  • Error management in health professions education
  • Residency recruitment & selection
  • Simulation-based training to enhance teamwork and communication
  • Team learning and decision-making


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

Are There Detrimental Effects From Proficiency-Based Training in Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery Among Novices? An Exploration of Goal Theory.
Stoller J, Joseph J, Parodi N, Gardner A J Surg Educ 2015 Nov
The impact of goal setting and goal orientation on performance during a clerkship surgical skills training program.
Gardner AK, Diesen DL, Hogg D, Huerta S Am. J. Surg. 2015 Nov
What do residents need to be competent laparoscopic and endoscopic surgeons?
Gardner AK, Willis RE, Dunkin BJ, Van Sickle KR, Brown KM, Truitt MS, Uecker JM, Gentry L, Scott DJ Surg Endosc 2015 Oct
Different Goals, Different Pathways: The Role of Metacognition and Task Engagement in Surgical Skill Acquisition.
Gardner AK, Jabbour IJ, Williams BH, Huerta S J Surg Educ 2015 Sep
Embracing Errors in Simulation-Based Training: The Effect of Error Training on Retention and Transfer of Central Venous Catheter Skills.
Gardner AK, Abdelfattah K, Wiersch J, Ahmed RA, Willis RE J Surg Educ 2015 Sep
Concepts for Developing Expert Surgical Teams Using Simulation.
Gardner AK, Scott DJ Surg. Clin. North Am. 2015 Aug 95 4 717-28
Best practices across surgical specialties relating to simulation-based training.
Gardner AK, Scott DJ, Pedowitz RA, Sweet RM, Feins RH, Deutsch ES, Sachdeva AK Surgery 2015 Jul
Gearing up for milestones in surgery: Will simulation play a role?
Gardner AK, Scott DJ, Hebert JC, Mellinger JD, Frey-Vogel A, Ten Eyck RP, Davis BR, Sillin LF, Sachdeva AK Surgery 2015 May
Expanding simulation-based education through institution-wide initiatives: A blueprint for success.
Gardner AK, Lachapelle K, Pozner CN, Sullivan ME, Sutherland D, Scott DJ, Sillin L, Sachdeva AK Surgery 2015 May
Developing a Comprehensive Resident Education Evaluation System in the Era of Milestone Assessment.
Gardner AK, Scott DJ, Choti MA, Mansour JC J Surg Educ 2015 Jan

Honors & Awards

  • American College of Surgeons (ACS) and Association for Surgical Education (ASE) Medical Student Curriculum Best Paper Award
  • Association for Surgical Education (ASE) Paper of Distinction Award
  • Association for Surgical Education (ASE) Recognition of Excellence Award
  • Association for Surgical Education (ASE) Paper of Distinction Award
  • Association for Surgical Education (ASE) Recognition of Excellence Award
  • American Psychological Association (APA) Student Travel Award
  • Academy of Management (AOM) Best Paper Award
  • Marie Wilson Howells Outstanding Psychology Student Award

Professional Associations/Affiliations

  • International Anesthesia Research Society (2014)
  • American College of Surgeons (2013)
  • Association for Surgical Education (2013)
  • Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (2013)
  • Society for Simulation in Healthcare (2011)
  • Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology (2008)