BLACKSBURG, Va., Feb. 11, 2013 – The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Tsu-Sheng Chang, instructor of Engineering Sciences and Mechanics, for his outstanding dedication to the students in his classes, and to his former students whom he continually welcomes when help is needed.
Dr. Tsu-Sheng Chang, or “Roger” as he asks his students to refer to him, is often described by his students as the best-known instructor in the College of Engineering. Not because of impossibly hard tests or because his class is an easy “A” or even because he has the “coolest” robots or planes, but because he is a great teacher. He is famous for allowing students to do work in his office whether they are taking his class or not, and receive help from him when it’s needed. A former student commented on his availability: “The first day during my freshman physics class, he gave out his home phone number in case we needed help, asking only that we didn't ‘call too late.’” When asked, students explain that as Roger walks around campus, even graduate students poke one another and point him out as though he is a local celebrity.
Students have been known to participate in a full-tilt rush to Add/Drop as soon as the process becomes available online, and wait with tried patience to learn if they are the lucky ones to make it into his section. He teaches a range from the 2000-level physics and Engineering Science and Mechanics (ESM) courses including Statics, Dynamics, and Deformable materials, up through the 3000-level Mechanical Engineering System Dynamics and Vibrations courses.
Why has Roger Chang incurred this level of respect? The short answer is that he cares. His highest priority in a class is making sure students understand the material. His examples are always very well developed, office hours are famous for their abnormal scope and that students can go to them even when not taking his courses, and his teaching methods are interactive and engaging. Students in his courses confirm an understanding that with Roger Chang at the head of the class, they know the material will be covered at a reasonable pace, they will be given many opportunities to learn the material well, and that his tests are well-written with high but reasonable and attainable expectations conducive to a positive and effective learning environment. For these reasons and others, engineering students campus-wide desperately watch the timetable for openings in his classes.
In addition, the effectiveness of his teaching is clear: "Chang is the only person who would sit down to help me with work that was not in his department, not in his class, only minorly in his field, and still put me way ahead of where I would have been with other professors."
-Matthew Paluszek, current graduate student, ME; 2011 graduate of ESM department
Another student commented that he’s “seldom known of a teacher that rivals his desire for student success, but Dr. Chang seems to see it as his life's purpose. Pretty amazing.”
A colleague of Roger’s has also noticed the appreciation he receives from former and current students: “I'm not personally familiar with his approach, but my students are always talking about Dr, Chang and how helpful he is, even with material for other classes. He teaches sections of Statics, and is a very beloved instructor in the ESM department.”
Dr. Chang has earned the following awards for both excellence in teaching and research: the Dr. Manuel Stein Endowed Scholarship of ESM Department in 1997 and 1998 for excellent teaching and research; the University Sporn Award during the 1998-1999 and 2008-2009 academic years for excellence in teaching of engineering courses; and the Faculty Appreciation Day Students' Choice Award, Faculty Member of the Year in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. In addition, Roger is Vice President of the Chinese Student Association and Editor of Newsletter for the Chinese Student Association.