Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week
The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Steve Trost, advanced instructor of Economics, for using clear explanations, plenty of real-world examples, and a little bit of humor to teach Principles of Microeconomics to nearly 1,000 students every semester.
During his nine years of teaching at Virginia Tech, Dr. Trost has introduced over 12,000 students to economics and the economic way of thinking in his ECON 2005 (Principles of Economics) course. Dr. Trost stresses that economics is not just about numbers or money, but about how people behave, how we respond to incentives, and how markets coordinate and influence our behavior. He also teaches that markets are far from perfect and that understanding how and why markets fail is crucial to our understanding of the economy. Economics relies on tools and concepts that are unfamiliar to many students. To help these students understand the ideas, Dr. Trost frequently frames the concepts in terms of real world examples that everyone is familiar with. Since about 95% of his Principles of Economics students are not economics majors, Dr. Trost makes sure that students leave the class with “real-world” knowledge of economics that will help them not only in their academic endeavors but also in their everyday lives.
In addition to high SPOT scores (especially for a large, required, introductory class), Dr. Trost has received a number or awards for his teaching. He’s been the Economics Department’s “Principles Teacher of the Year” four times (including 2015-2016), has been named a “Favorite Faculty Member” by Housing and Residential Life three times, and has been selected as an “Outstanding Faculty Member” by the Panhellenic community at Virginia Tech twice. He often gets notes of thanks from students, sometimes long after they have left his class. Here is one such note:
“I thoroughly enjoyed your class. Despite the fact that it was a requirement, I actually didn’t hate getting up to go to class and, dare I say, even looked forward to it- certainly more than I expected myself to. I enjoyed your subtle humor and frequent use of relevant examples, which helped me remember concepts particularly well. I also had a fair share of “Hey, I learned about that in Econ!” moments outside of class, which is one of those rewarding things that makes the learning process seem worth it- for me, anyway. You have a noticeable passion for what you do, which translates over to your teaching and really makes it more effective.”