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Herbert Bruce

Herbert Bruce, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Practice for the Food Science and Technology Department

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 Bruce, his approach to teaching focuses on facilitating student engagement: “In my classes, I go in with the idea that I am going to have fun as I teach the class, and hopefully my students will enjoy attending the class, and possibly even find the topic interesting. I also engage the students, asking questions and having them explain important topics to verify they have understood what I intended to teach. In every instance, I do what I can to be sure learning is occurring and I put my students' understanding of the material as the highest priority. It doesn't matter what I teach, it matters what they learn.”

Consistent with his overall approach to teaching, Bruce said he has “implemented a correction policy for all individual homework and tests so that students can better master the information.” Furthermore, Bruce has implemented a project-based final exam. “It is more difficult to grade the exam but it is something I have continued to use… as it generates more interest from the students while having them synthesize lessons throughout the semester in order to complete the project,” he said.

A current student, Eric Tomley, said that the best thing about Bruce is “his empathy towards all of his students.” Tomley explained that “if a student misses a class unexpectedly, Bruce will personally reach out to you to make sure you are okay and that his help isn't needed rather than ask why you missed class.”

Jakob Baker, a former student, described that Bruce has been a “critical mentor” to him throughout his time at Virginia Tech. Baker explained that Bruce goes “above and beyond for students to support students and find internships, career openings, research opportunities, and campus-affiliated clubs… .” Baker also said that he “has grown as a student, and more importantly as an individual” as a result of knowing Bruce.  

One of Bruce’s colleagues, Tiffany Shoop, offered this quote about his teaching excellence: “Whether working with students in the brewing lab or supporting first-year students in his FYE course, Bruce's ability to engage students in meaningful learning experiences is truly extraordinary. In addition, his dedication to teaching and learning extends beyond his own classrooms as he regularly and enthusiastically shares his teaching practices and strategies with other faculty members seeking to improve their engagement with students."

Bruce provided the following advice for new college teachers: “Teaching is a journey and it's one that should be enjoyed. Invite your students to come along with you as you both learn more about the subject. And, invite them along to have fun in the classroom and with the subject.  There is a reason you chose to become an expert in the field; let that excitement show.”