Dr. Bruce Kirchoff’s teaching philosophy? “Without active learning, there is no learning.”

The active learning that happens in his classes – and the impact he is having for students internationally – has earned him high recognition.

Kirchoff has been chosen to receive the 2014 UNC Board of Governors Excellence in Teaching Award. He was 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 numerous national teaching workshops. In the early 1990s 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 do better on their exams. 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.

Kirchoff 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 year, the Board of Governors selects one faculty member from each UNC campus for the award to underscore the importance of teaching and to encourage, identify, recognize, reward and support good teaching within the UNC system. Kirchoff will receive a commemorative bronze medallion and a $12,500 cash prize. The recipients were announced by the BOG last week.

Award citations for all 17 award recipients may be found here.

Story by Mike Harris, University Relations

Photograph by David Wilson, University Relations