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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Arthur Buikema


The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Arthur Buikema, professor of Biological Sciences, for 20 years of teaching large classes using inquiry-based strategies.

Dr. Buikema supports his students’ learning through facilitating progressively deeper levels of understanding and knowledge. Dr. Buikema’s students are expected to be prepared before they come to class. Before class, his students are provided with a list of terms they should be able to use in a conversation. After students download the appropriate list of terms and read the assigned material, they must enter these terms into a concept-mapping program that is graded by the computer. Prior to coming to class, they also download copies of worksheets to make it easier to take notes. A typical 75-minute lecture period begins with a brief, ~30 minute lecture just to make sure there are no questions. This is followed by the students breaking into ad Hoc groups to brainstorm answers to questions posited by the professor. The expectation is that they can at this point apply what they have learned. During this time, Dr. Buikema and a student TA roam the room making sure that the conversations stay on topic and facilitate the students’ discussions. After an appropriate period of time, a class consensus is formulated for each question.

Currently, Dr. Buikema uses these teaching techniques in his Principles of Biology course, a class of 130 students, each fall term. In addition, he utilizes even more student-oriented techniques when he teaches smaller classes such as Honors Biology and Honors Ecology. Dr. Buikema is also currently co-coordinating the design of inquiry-based exercises used by 1200-1500 students each semester in the freshman biology laboratories with Ms. Catherine Sarmadi.

Dr. Buikema is the recipient of every major teaching award from Virginia Tech and he as also received several national and international teaching awards. His first teaching award was the Sporn Award for teaching an introductory subject in 1988 with a class of about 250 students. This was followed by the SETAC Environmental Education Award in 1994, the Diggs Teaching Scholar Award in 1995, the Alumni Teaching Award in 1996, the National Association of Biology Teachers Award in 2000, the XCaliber Award in 2000 and the William E. Wine Award in 2002-2003. He was named an ADP in 1999. Course materials are located on a password protected website. Access to these materials will be provided upon personal request to Dr. Buikema.

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