Michael Rosenzweig, senior instructor of biological sciences for the College of Science, has received the university’s 2016 Sporn Award for Teaching Introductory Subjects.

Sponsored by the Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research and the Virginia Tech Academy for Teaching Excellence, the Sporn Award for Teaching Introductory Subjects recognizes a Virginia Tech faculty member who teaches introductory-level courses.

Nominated by students, award recipients are selected by a committee composed of student representatives from the Omicron Delta Kappa and Golden Key honor societies, with the faculty member who won the award the previous year serving as liaison to the finalists. Award winners receive $2,000 and are inducted into the university’s Academy of Teaching Excellence.

Rosenzweig was selected from among four finalists that resulted from some 200 nominations, following submission of an extensive dossier that included letters of support from colleagues and former students.

The award was established in memory of Dr. and Mrs. Philip J. Sporn. Philip Sporn was a Virginia Tech alumnus and president and chief executive officer of American Electric Power Co.

Rosenzweig has taught Principles of Biology 1105 and 1106, one of the department’s most challenging teaching assignments because of large class size, since 1998.

In 2009, he developed an online version of both courses for students who could not necessarily commute to Blacksburg and which he teaches during the summer sessions.

More recently, Rosenzweig was a member of a team tasked with redesigning the courses to incorporate cutting-edge teaching pedagogy and active classroom styles. Instead of spending the entire class time lecturing, students watch an online lecture prior to class, leaving the class period for review, discussion, and activities. The results showed improved test scores and a stronger ability to discuss subject matter in a group setting.

His involvement in the transformation of Principles of Biology 1105 and 1106 helped earn him the Sporn Award for Teaching Introductory Subjects.

“I believe that Dr. Rosenzweig’s addressing of academic and life skills during his introductory courses has set me up for success throughout the rest of my academic career,” wrote Brandon Rodgers, a senior in biological sciences.

Rosenzweig has received the CIDER “Thank a Teacher” recognition every year since 2007, as well as the University Alumni Outreach Award in 2014.

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