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Mike Ellerbrock

Mike Ellerbrock, Ph.D.

Professor and Undergraduate Co-Director in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics

Excellence in Teaching Spotlight by the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Virginia Tech

The Excellence in Teaching Spotlight, 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 Ellerbrock, his approach to teaching focuses on facilitating his students’ sense of ownership regarding their learning: “My goal is to draw out the wisdom inherent in students. In every interaction, I try to elicit wisdom, growth, confidence, responsibility, reasoning, optimism, and enthusiasm from within themselves. I am direct with students at all times, and, when necessary, respectfully challenge their attitude and/or motivation in a private conversation. In pedagogical matters, I strive to minimize lecture time in classes and instead use rhetorical questions as much as possible to evoke students' curiosity, critical thinking, and creativity. When students think for themselves about the material, including disputing my logic, they tend to take more ownership of what they learn.”

Riley Thompson, one of Ellerbrock’s former students, discussed how Ellerbrock’s teaching expanded his appreciation for economics: “Dr. Ellerbrock has truly been the most influential professor I've had the pleasure of learning under. I'm not an economics student, but Dr. Ellerbrock's teaching made it easy for me to apply economic perspectives across disciplines and into my own field of urban planning. He creates an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust, and as such, students feel comfortable and encouraged to engage with the concepts. He genuinely cares about and values every single one of his students. He makes an effort to know every student's name and history, which is beyond rare for lecturers with hundreds of students. I can't emphasize enough how Dr. Ellerbrock changed my view of economics for the better.”

Ellerbrock provided the following advice for new college teachers: “Enjoy your students. Before they care how much you know, they need to know how much you care.”