Teaching Excellence Awards

 Year Awarded: 2004

Faculty Award winner

Bruce Wilson

 College of Arts and Sciences

 Political Science

My role as a teacher is to provide students with excellent training in Political Science and to equip them with the necessary skills to succeed in their careers and to become lifelong learners. I emphasize critical thinking and writing skills and expose students to an increasingly diverse and global political world. I facilitate student-centered learning through the use of interactive assignments, simulations, small online discussion groups, and research projects. My research plays a central and integral role in keeping my classes up-to-date.

As departmental and university programmatic needs change, I have designed and taught new classes. In the last three years, I have taught nine different courses, including four completely new ones, one in Spanish, and many in different modes. Teaching also takes place outside of the classroom; individualized contact motivates students to become more interested in the material. I have supervised undergraduates in independent studies, Honors-in-the-Major thesis, internships, and as research assistants. Last year, I funded six undergraduate research assistants. Moreover, teaching is influenced by university policies. As the departmental Honors College coordinator, I have fostered its expansion from just 2 students per year in 1996 to 14 for 2003.

I view myself as a lifelong learner, too and regularly use the professional counsel offered in workshops, institutes, and by visiting experts. Because I believe new teaching techniques should be evaluated in a systematic manner, I have sought and obtained funding to evaluate online teaching. A $200,000 grant from the Pew Foundation and numerous smaller grants permitted the redesign and evaluation the department's GEP course and the application of useful teaching techniques to other classes. My Pew grant provided the seed money for a highly trafficked 25-student computer lab, which I helped design and have managed since its opening.

To measure the effectiveness of my own teaching, I have engaged in research on teaching, and regularly discuss teaching issues at conferences and workshops both at UCF and at professional conferences. My teaching research findings have been published. Because of the importance of disseminating teaching research, I am an active member of the American Political Science Association's Undergraduate teaching section. Last year I helped establish a new national teaching journal for political science, and I serve on the editorial board. I recognize that students have different learner styles, thus my teaching and assessment methods address that diversity through the varied testing instruments to accommodate students' diversity of strengths. In sum, I see teaching as a multi-faceted endeavor that takes place on many levels.