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September 2020: Angela Anderson

Angela Anderson

Assistant professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise

2020 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. Anderson keeps practical application at the heart of her course and assessment design. “My exams are always situational, where they have to apply the material,” Anderson said. “I never want them to learn material just for the sake of memorizing, but to teach them that they will use this material in their careers.”

Anderson strives to bring an ethic of care to the classroom, prioritizing her students’ mental health in the academic sphere and beyond. Matt Hulver, Professor of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise and Assistant Dean of Health Sciences, highlighted her dedication to the success and well-being of her students. “Angela’s preparedness, enthusiasm, and passion for educating students is unrivaled, but what I admire most is how much she cares for each and every student she encounters,” he said. “Angela cares so deeply that her students succeed, not only in the courses she teaches but also in life. ”

Anderson is committed to learner-centered teaching, using her own passion for the course content to energize students to care about the material. Maya Johnson, a former student and teaching assistant of Anderson’s, spoke of her ability to channel that enthusiasm into engaging, research-based experiences for her students. “Dr. Anderson brings a contagious energy to the classroom, both with her passion for her subject area and her commitment to engage her students,” Johnson said. “Not only does she provide her students with up-to-date research, hands-on activities, and case studies, but she ensures that every single student in her class gets the support they need to be successful.”

Among the most meaningful experiences in teaching for Anderson is watching her students go on to do amazing things. “I love to hear from alumni and how the classes that they had me as a professor prepared them for post-graduate school or their jobs,” Anderson said. “I have succeeded when they go on and shine in their own lives.” She also cited end-of-semester emails from students as memorable motivators. Abby Setash is one of the many students who showed appreciation for Anderson’s passion for teaching and emphasis on student wellness. “Dr. Anderson was honestly my saving grace during my years at Virginia Tech,” Setash remembered. “She is a big reason why I am the person I am today, and my collegiate experience wouldn’t have been the same without her.”

Anderson’s advice to new faculty embodies the center’s mission of learner-centered instructional excellence. “Choose people first—the work will always get done,” she advised. “Every time a student walks into my office or I see them on campus, I drop what I am doing to listen. Sometimes it is about class but a lot of time it is about life. Making a difference in these student's lives is a lot about just being present with them.”