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Shamindri Arachchige

Shamindri Arachchige, Ph.D.

Senior Instructor in the Department of Chemistry

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 Arachchige, her approach to teaching focuses on providing a rewarding and memorable experience for her students: “I employ diverse teaching approaches to provide an inclusive and effective learning environment in a large classroom setting. I teach as I want to be taught, with enthusiasm and passion, conveying knowledge to reach every student to do their best in learning chemistry, ensuring that they find the time spent in my classroom to be rewarding and memorable.”

Arachchige’s colleague, Candace Wall, discussed Arachchige’s positive qualities as an instructor: “Dr. Arachchige’s kind and welcoming demeanor fosters a supportive environment where students feel valued and respected, particularly while navigating such a difficult set of courses. She gently guides her students during her unending office hours with what seems like infinite patience. Her goal is to ensure that every student receives the attention they need to succeed. Her instruction style is traditional yet flexible. The way that she organizes her courses, especially laboratory courses, facilitates success in many student groups.  She sets a high standard for instruction for the faculty who work with her.”   

Rebecca Kenealy, one of Arachchige’s former students, commented on Arachchige’s impact on her: “Dr. Arachchige is a master at explaining concepts, including complex chemical reactions, in ways that just clicks with students. I have experienced this myself as one of her students, as a studio instructor for her classes, and as an in-class learning assistant for her. She knows exactly how to help students connect the concepts we learn in General Chemistry to their lives through practical examples and exciting demonstrations. I can say with confidence that Dr. Arachchige has had the most profound impact on me out of all of my professors; she inspired me to pursue a second major in Medicinal Chemistry, and she encouraged me to become a studio instructor/learning assistant, which taught me how much I love teaching students Chemistry. Dr. Arachchige is without question, one of the most dedicated and inspiring professors at Virginia Tech, and I could not have asked for a better professor.”   

Arachchige provided the following advice for new college teachers: “Embrace the challenges of your first year of teaching with resilience. Focus on building meaningful connections with your students. Demonstrate your dedication to their success and make yourself accessible for support.”