Jacob Shortt, M.S.
Assistant professor of practice in the Department of Accounting and Information Systems
Excellence in Teaching Award from the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Virginia Tech
The award, presented by the center to approximately nine Virginia Tech faculty members each academic year, recognizes a faculty member's effective, engaged, and dynamic approaches and achievements as an educator.
Among the goals of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning are advancing experiential learning at Virginia Tech and improving student learning through research-based instructional practices and student-centered design. According to Shortt, his approach to teaching focuses on relating to his students on a human level: “Life takes a lot of twists and turns and I know my students are dealing with more than just my class. I teach through a lens of compassion, understanding, and respect as it creates a space where students can feel free to learn, grow, and be challenged.”
According to Shortt, he “has been blessed with several great opportunities here at Virginia Tech.” Shortt provided a few examples: “Through Virginia Tech Outreach, specifically VT India, I was able to develop and teach a data analytics and visualization course virtually to students at SVKM’S NMIMS Data Science University in Mumbai, India. I have also been able to develop and teach a similar course as part of Virginia Tech’s Executive MBA program. Through Virginia Tech Outreach I have also been able to develop and teach data analytics as part of a certificate course as well as provide analytics trainings to groups in the Navy and the Department of Defense.”
John Maher, a fellow faculty member in the Department of Accounting and Information Systems, described Shortt as, “an outstanding teacher.” Maher has sat in on Shortt’s Accounting Analytics course and said that he “makes the class extremely interesting, uses the most relevant current technology, and facilitates the development of critical thinking skills.” Maher then provided an example: “Jacob starts each class showing a static visualization (e.g. table or chart) on the screen taken from some recent magazine, newspaper, or journal article. Deliberately, some of these are good and some are not so good. Jacob takes a few minutes asking students what they like about the visualization and what they do not like about it. Is the visualization misleading? How could it be improved? This helps the students to get into the habit of critically analyzing information presented to them.”
Elisabeth Healy, one of Shortt’s former students, described him as, “one of those rare teachers that can make a hard class feel almost easy.” Healy added that Shortt’s teaching excellence extends well beyond the classroom. According to her, at a “VT event” at her company, Shortt gave a presentation and “was able to engage an audience of professionals with his examples and explanations, and just like class, everyone left a little wiser.”
Maria Keener, a former student of Professor Shortt and a current ACIS TA, explained that Shortt’s “passion for teaching and helping others is apparent in everything he does.” She expressed that she “was really struggling with teaching a class with no prior experience.” However, according to Keener, “Professor Shortt took time out of his schedule to help reassure and guide me with some helpful tips on managing a classroom. I have no idea how I would’ve made it through last semester without his help and constant support.”
When asked about a memorable teaching experience, Shortt said, “I absolutely love when students come to me with excitement about getting a job offer, or they reach out to tell me they got promoted or achieved a certification. Being even a small part of their journey is what makes me want to continue improving and providing the best education I can.”
Shortt also provided the following advice for new college teachers: “The best advice I could give to new college teachers is to never stop learning. Embrace the challenges and grow, as that will translate to a better education for both yourself and your students. Approach each class with passion for your material coupled with compassion, for yourself and for your students. It’s okay to have an off day. It’s okay for your students to have off days. The key is to never give up and come back tomorrow with a desire to both teach and learn.”