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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Brian Badgley

   

The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Brian Badgley, assistant professor of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, for his efforts to provide the next generation of environmental scientists with the knowledge, broad interdisciplinary perspectives, and problem-solving skills that are required to address the complex issues faced by society. While the world grows increasingly complex, it seems that many popular sources of information are becoming truncated and oversimplified. Important scientific topics such as evolution, climate change, and conservation of biodiversity have been reduced to basic notions of “right” or “wrong.” In contrast, Dr. Badgley enjoys focusing on the subtle complexities inherent in these issues, examining them from all sides and attempting to understand the effects of this complexity on how society addresses a particular issue. Dr. Badgley enjoys passing this understanding on to others, and states that during his professional development, “I have come to appreciate how much we, as teachers, must counter this trend towards oversimplification. By pushing my students to grasp the dynamics of complex and variable natural systems, we try to help them mature professionally and prepare them to make responsible decisions in the future.” Dr. Badgley enjoys passing this understanding on to others, and states that during his professional development, “I have come to appreciate how much we, as teachers, must counter this trend towards oversimplification. By pushing my students to grasp the dynamics of complex and variable natural systems, we try to help them mature professionally and prepare them to make responsible decisions in the future.”

Dr. Badgley has consistently relied upon three important pillars as the foundation for his approach as an educator. First, he believes there is no substitute for experiential learning, and has seen this reinforced repeatedly both within the classroom and while mentoring undergraduate researchers. Laboratory sections provide ample opportunity for active learning and informal discussion. In his Environmental Microbiology class, Dr. Badgley attends every lab that he can because those are the times he can interact with the students and reinforce primary concepts on a more informal and personal level, which is not as easy in a large lecture hall. Second, Dr. Badgley always strives to teach concepts through the lens of case studies, actual research results, and other real world examples as much as possible. This helps instruct the students about the fluidity of scientific theory, and how it is constantly being questioned and edited. Thirdly, and most importantly to Dr. Badgley, he believes that teaching is a privilege and students deserve to be respected as individuals and equals. He always attempts to learn as many names as possible, regardless of class size, and is always pleased at the positive effect this on his relationships with his students.

Prior to joining VT, Dr. Badgley gained considerable professional experience in education that included field-based environmental education for grade school students, professional training and workshop development for coastal resource managers, multiple graduate teaching assistantships, and a teaching appointment in his current position, which in his final year, was honored as the Graduate Teaching Assistant of the Year. At Virginia Tech, Dr. Badgley has consistently received strong student evaluations above the departmental and college averages, and was recently summarized in a peer evaluation of his teaching as being “an outstanding teacher who is very comfortable in the classroom” and has “excellent chemistry with the students.”

Homepage: http://www.cses.vt.edu/people/tenure/badgley.html





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