The active learning that happens in his classes – and the impact he is having for students internationally – has earned him high recognition.
Kirchoff will receive a 2014 UNC Board of Governors Excellence in Teaching Award. He will be recognized at the April 9 Faculty and Staff Excellence Awards Ceremony, and the award will be presented at May Commencement.
With research centering on plant structure and development, and on visual learning, Kirchoff has been a member of UNCG’s biology faculty since 1986. He has taught, developed, and revised courses in plant biology, honors, and freshman seminars, and has conducted numbers national teaching workshops. In the early 1990’s he served as the director of UNCG’s Introductory Biology program.
He also embodies the spirit of entrepreneurship. The UNCG Office of Innovation and Commercialization advised him on starting a company, Metis LLC, around his proprietary software. The UNCG Teaching and Learning Center (now the FTLC) funded some of the initial development of this software. As a result, it is offered free to any course at UNCG.
One version of the software teaches plant recognition. As a result of using this software his students they do better on their exams. As noted in an earlier CW story, the software is used nationally and internationally, from Florida State University, to Charles Sturt University in Australia. Other versions of the software are being used to teach organic chemistry functional groups (in collaboration with Dr. Michael Croat, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry), herpetology identification, and plant life cycles.
He received the 2013 ASPT Innovations in Plant Systematics Education Prize for his plant identification teaching tool.
One student at the end of a recent course said, “This was a great course that was far exceeding my expectations! Dr. Kirchoff made it more student-led, which encouraged everyone to discuss topics and truly think for ourselves.”
Each award winner will receive a commemorative bronze medallion and a $12,500 cash prize. All awards will be presented by a Board of Governors member during each campus’ spring graduation ceremonies. The recipients were announced by the BOG last week.
Award citations for all 17 award recipients may be found at: http://www.northcarolina.edu/?q=board-governors-awards/teaching-awards-2014.