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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Michael Alexander

   

The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Michael Alexander, visiting assistant professor of History, for his captivating lecture style, his compelling PowerPoint presentations, his effective use of concept maps, and his passion for teaching.

Alexander makes the subject of history come alive for students in the many introductory and upper-level undergraduate courses he regularly offers, including the Modern World, European Civilization, the Medieval World, the History of the Renaissance, Tudor and Stuart England, Reformation Europe, the Modern Middle East, and others. In addition to his dynamic presentation style, he incorporates music and video into his class presentations and utilizes the latest technology to maximize student interest and student learning. He relies heavily on concept maps, which he constructs with his students, to help them appreciate the relationships between the people and events that he treats in his courses.

Alexander's teaching evaluations rank among the highest in a department widely known for its commitment to teaching excellence. Comments like “Professor Alexander is the best history teacher that I have ever had, hands down, and has taught me more about historical events than any other course I have taken” and “He’s made a real difference in my life” appear regularly in his written student evaluations. Comments from peer reviews of his classes echo the enthusiasm that students have for his teaching. One colleague who reviewed his class wrote “In my career of some forty years in the classroom, I would place Michael among the top echelon of teachers I have observed.” That colleague noted in particular Michael’s strengths in anticipating student needs and questions and his ability to effectively deploy cutting-edge technology in his classroom. Another colleague noted, “Michael Alexander’s work in the classroom is fresh and invigorating. His ability to integrate huge historical themes into a manageable, deliverable lecture is exceptional. I sense a genuine passion for the material and a passion for delivering this material to this young demographic. Multi-sensory effects are well planned and nicely expected. . . . [B]y incorporating visual images, appropriate animation, video and sounds into the seventy-five minute class, Michael keeps the attention focused on the material.” He has already won several teaching awards, beginning with a Z Society Commendation from Teaching Excellence that he received while a graduate student at the University of Virginia. Students here have twice nominated him for the Favorite Faculty Award, and in 2011 he won the Sporn Award for Excellence in Teaching Introductory Subjects.





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