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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Oscar Solis

   

The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Oscar Solis, assistant professor of Apparel, Housing & Resource Management, for his commitment to helping undergraduate students understand the importance of their financial futures through real-world examples, interactive activities, and innovative pedagogical teaching strategies.

Dr. Solis teaches undergraduate-level courses in the Department of Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management (AHRM) in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Since starting at Virginia Tech in fall 2012, Dr. Solis has taught two undergraduate consumer finance courses per semester. Recent courses include family financial management (AHRM 2304), financial counseling (AHRM 4324), and debtor-creditor relationships (AHRM 4314). The family financial management course consistently has 125-150 students, while the other courses generally have 25-35 students. Dr. Solis has also developed two online sections of the family financial management course, one offered during the winter session and during the summer session.
Dr. Solis has participated in numerous workshops and events sponsored by Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies (TLOS), the Department of Human Resources, and CIDER, which have helped him to improve his teaching effectiveness and provide a more learner-centered, engaging, and interactive instructional environment for classes both large and small. As one of his undergraduate students in the family financial management course said, “Dr. Solis is one of the most amazing professors that I have ever had. The most important thing that he did was that he made sure that every single class was interesting and engaging. He would take a dry subject matter and make it very interesting and appealing. He conducted several in-class activities that kept the class engaged with the subject matter and with each other.” Said another student from the debtor-creditor relationships course, “Dr. Solis ran a great class with the students having much respect for him as well as the other way around. There was something about the way he treated his students that made everyone want to do their best and learn rather than take shortcuts.”

As a student at heart, Dr. Solis pursues strategies that will enhance his effectiveness and create positive interactions with students. His teaching approach is to demonstrate the parallels between real-world experiences and textbook content and theories. Dr. Solis recognizes that his most engaging professors when he was a student, were those who were able to explain and simplify subject material through the use of visual aids and examples. Understanding that students have different learning styles and cultural backgrounds, he connects course material to outside examples as a way to foster learning. As one student enrolled in the family financial management course said, “He was a VERY engaging teacher, he always used lots of realistic examples to help explain different lessons from the class.” Added another student, “He genuinely cares about how the material is going to be useful in his students' everyday life and future.”
One innovative strategy that Dr. Solis frequently employs is to ask students to write a one-page personal statement outlining their short- and long-term career and financial goals. Although reading more than 150 personal biographies is time-consuming, he finds that the narratives provide a rich variety of stories and goals to which he can refer throughout the semester to illustrate key points and financial topics. And while he keeps the students’ sensitive information confidential, he encourages willing participants to share their stories and goals during classroom discussions. This approach enhances student learning, connects the students with each other based on their interests, and makes an enormous lecture hall feel more like a small, cozy living room. One student in the family financial management class evaluated Dr. Solis’s interactive approach in the large class: “He took the time to learn the names of all 100+ students, which made the atmosphere in the class more relaxed, and I believe that helped students who did not understand something not be afraid to answer or ask questions.” And another student said, “I was very impressed that the instructor did his best to get to know the students on an individual basis and learn the names of the majority of individuals. It made the classroom feel more welcoming and encouraged us (me and my friends) to try harder when we [knew] that the professor cares and is aware of what is going on in the class.”

Homepage: http://liberalarts.vt.edu/faculty-directory/ahrm-faculty/oscar-solis.html





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