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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Brett Jones


The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Brett Jones, associate professor of Learning Sciences and Technologies, for scaffolding students' learning with innovative strategies that encourage students to think deeply and work toward applying empirical research and learning theory to their personal and professional lives in teaching and learning.

Brett Jones teaches graduate level educational psychology courses, such as Motivation and Cognition (lecture) and Psychological Foundations of Education for Preservice Teachers (online). Dr. Jones’s commitment to his students’ academic success throughout these courses both empowers students and demonstrates how effective the concept of "caring" can be implemented in a classroom, traditional or virtual.

In his Motivation and Cognition course, Dr. Jones designs multiple opportunities to engage with the material in a variety of contexts in order to elicit discussion surrounding the nuances of many theories of motivation and learning. He leads effective discourse, offering counter examples to refine student thinking regarding homework and reading assignments--through this dialogue, students not only can digest the knowledge from his teaching, but also propose their own perspectives. He approaches teaching with a broad knowledge base respected by his students, while his sense of humor and attention to motivational theory in his instructional strategies encourages them to enjoy and engage in the learning process.

Brett Jones’s presentation of the MUSIC Model of Academic Motivation (Jones, 2009) for educators makes the information accessible to students, and to the teacher candidates with whom the graduate students work (see It was in this course that his students reported understanding more deeply the implications of internal versus external motivation and the detriments that can arise when the teacher does not support students’ motivation for success. Demonstrating the utility value inherent in even his assignments, as a part of a course assignment in which one student gave the MUSIC Model of Academic Motivation Inventory (MMAMI) to a college supervisor and her class, the participating professor said that she benefited from the feedback from her students and the MUSIC model. Moreover, through this and other assignments, he provides opportunity for students to put theory into practice.

Testament to the lasting effect his mentorship and teaching has on his students, one student noted: "I have heard amazing things about Dr. Jones since I first came to Virginia Tech two years ago, and his class was one that I looked forward to taking. I was not disappointed! A close friend of mine had him as an instructor at another university, and he was the reason she chose to come to Virginia Tech. Her experience as an undergraduate preservice teacher in his class positively affected her classroom teaching. He is a challenging, encouraging, and personable professor. He makes the time to stop and talk to former students, asking about coursework and degree progress. Dr. Jones’s humble approach to working with graduate students makes him approachable. He listens closely to what students say, and does not hesitate to challenge their thinking."

Another student said, "He presents himself in a manner that shows he sets high expectations for himself. His scholarship is evidence of those expectations. This professional practice and presence makes you want to rise to the occasion in his class."

One more student explained, “He is a warm-hearted teacher who cares for students’ well-being. Although I am a foreign student, I feel quite relaxed and confident due to his encouragement. Besides, so far as I know, he is the teacher who responds students' feedback fastest and most constructively. . . . I selected his course EDEP 6444 with another 21 students, and we all liked his way of teaching. We liked participating in the activities he designed and liked the funny comics he presented which were greatly related to the text content we read. Moreover, we also like the way he encourages and enlightens us to establish our own theory system based on the knowledge he taught. Besides, I also very much appreciate his understanding, support, and encouragement of foreign students like me who are quite inexperienced and have some difficulty in communication.”

Brett Jones has taught 21 different types of courses related to motivation, cognition, and teaching strategies, and he received the university-wide Undergraduate Teaching Award at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (2003-2004). As the program area leader for Educational Psychology, Dr. Jones provides meaningful graduate education. Dr. Jones also serves Virginia Tech and the wider community well in his work on NSF grants and outreach. Currently, he is a co-principal investigator on an NSF grant related to the motivation, retention, and career plans of women in engineering. Other ongoing NSF grant funded projects include one that focuses on middle school student motivation in the STEM fields ( and another related to improving the structural engineering education of architecture students. Findings from these projects and others have been published in more than 50 articles, books, and book chapters.

Jones, B. D. (2009). Motivating students to engage in learning: The MUSIC model of academic motivation. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 21(2), 272-285. Retrieved from


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