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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Bin Xu


The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Bin Xu, assistant professor of Biochemistry, for using his teaching as a means to inspire students and to stimulate their interest in learning, for providing students the conceptual tools and principles for real-world application, and for using hands-on activities to facilitate student learning and interest.

Dr. Xu teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses, including two core courses in his department, Laboratory Problems in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BCHM 4124) and Protein Structure and Function (BCHM 5224). He also teaches undergraduate research courses each semester, taking multiple students and incorporating them into his active research projects and provides students practical undergraduate research experience for students’ career development. In the classroom, Dr. Xu’s teaching philosophy is based on several learning themes. First, he uses concept-driven approaches. He believes that it is challenging but critical for students to fully and clearly understand relevant key concepts before they can be appropriately applied. Hence, he devoted the time to fully explain each new concept presented to the class and used a variety of teaching tools, such as text books, PowerPoint representations, research papers, review papers, scientific movies, and “live examples” - application stories from his own laboratories. Secondly, he believes it is important to remove any practical learning “barriers”. For examples, his lectures and class materials are well organized and easily accessible and are convenient for the students to review. He provides rapid answers and feedback to students’ questions through emails and such exchanges are typically distributed to the entire class to benefit every student. Thirdly, he encourages active learning and gives students credit for not only classroom participation, but also for attending field trips/site visits, hands-on activities, and relevant seminars, and for teaching. Lastly, he cares about every student in his class and dedicates extra attention to those with weaker backgrounds but who are motivated for success. As an active researcher, Dr. Xu is able to effectively integrate his research into teaching. He utilizes his research projects in diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease to provide exciting biomedical contexts to stimulate and sustain students’ learning motivation.

During his postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Xu was selected in the HHMI/University of Washington – Future Faculty Fellow program, which systematically develops fellows’ effective teaching skills. His course instruction at Virginia Tech has not only received excellent evaluations from his faculty peers, but also his students with SPOT evaluations that are consistently well above the college average. One graduate student in his class wrote, “The instructor’s (Dr. Xu) passion for the subject was clearly evident and inspiring! He is definitely an expert in the field and his effort was clear to me as a student which I appreciate greatly.” Two undergraduate students commented, “The instructor never just gave us the answer but he made us think about the way to figure out the problem at hand”, “This course could have been much less enjoyable if I had not taken it with Dr. Xu.” With his teaching and guidance, the majority of his undergraduate researchers received honors and awards (in some cases, reported in the news) for their performance and are poised to develop highly successfully graduate and professional careers.


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