Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research

Diggs Teaching Scholars

This award was established in 1992 under the auspices of the University's Faculty Rewards Project. Sponsors of this program are the Diggs Endowed Professorship Fund and the Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER). Individuals teaching at all instructional levels at Virginia Tech (i.e., named and full professors, associate and assistant professors, adjunct faculty, instructors, and graduate teaching assistants) are eligible for nomination.

Call for Nominations

Nominations are due on Friday, January 20, 2017. Submission details are available here.

Recent Diggs Events

Fall 2016 Diggs Roundtable welcomed the 2016 winners of the Diggs Teaching Scholar Award:  Zhange (Nicole) Ni, Assistant Professor of Religion and Culture; Akshay Sharma, Associate Professor of Industrial Design; and Jean Lacoste, Senior Instructor in the Pamplin College of Business' Department of Accounting and Information Systems.

Zhange (Nicole) Ni: Zhange (Nicole) Ni is an Assistant Professor of Religion and Culture, specializing in Religion and Literature, Critical Theory, and Religion and Culture in Modern East Asia. She is an outstanding classroom innovator, one who, in the words of the October 2014 Teacher of the Week recognition, "is committed to helping undergraduate and graduate students to engage with and explore an increasingly multicultural world both within and outside the classroom." Her first book The Pagan Writes Back: When World Religion Meets World Literature was published by the University of Virginia Press in 2015. She is currently working on her new book project tentatively entitled The Child & the Sovereign: Religion, Violence, and Transnational Youth Culture. Her Diggs project will draw from her research as well as her experience of teaching courses in the Department of Religion and Culture at all levels. She envisions an annual student conference devoted to the topic of monsters. The agenda of this conference is to explore the fiction and reality of monsters most broadly defined, for instance, monsters in diverse religious and cultural traditions, monsters of science and technology, and/or monsters we define into being and defining who we are. The "monsters" conference will consist of scholarly panel discussions, exhibition/competition of creative works, and a movie night. Students, faculty, and stuff from all over the university will be able to sit, walk, talk, and work together across a range of boundaries on this fun project of making/unmaking monsters.

Akshay Sharma: Akshay Sharma, an Associate Professor of industrial design, is passionate about using design as a catalyst for positive change. He has led multidisciplinary student teams looking at issues related to social impact. He has worked on projects related to financial literacy for micro financing that is being implemented in rural NE india and will reach 100,000 women in next four years. Another project uses cell phones for creating an information management system vaccination records to be used in developing countries; a version of this system is being used by jaipur foot for managing their patient information. He believes good design ought to translate into joy and happiness for the end user. Akshay, along with faculty in SPIA and Mechanical engineering has tested the idea of distributed collaboration where a project that starts in a community engagement studio can become the starting point for a studio in industrial design which leads into the international development studio taught by a different faculty. Here is a link to a news story about this this model of collaboration. His website, has documentation about the projects his students have worked on as well as the collaborative relationships he has developed. He plans to use the support to create a guide for distributed collaboration among faculty and students at Virginia Tech.

Jean Lacoste: Jean Lacoste is a Senior Instructor in the Pamplin College of Business' Department of Accounting and Information Systems. Jean has taught well over 20,000 students during her tenure at Virginia Tech, most in groups of 500 students at a time. She has worked tirelessly to remove the impersonal atmosphere of the mass lecture classroom experience. Jean's project transformed her freshman-level, information systems, mass lecture course into a hands-on business analytics course delivered in a multi-modal format. This means instructional materials are made available in a variety of formats including video lecture, live lecture and interactive software. All avenues include hands-on activities with immediate feedback. Students are free to choose the combination of resources and activities that best fit their individual learning style, schedule and other preferences. This change has resulted in a more effective and enjoyable learning experience as evidenced by student feedback and summative assessments. Jean's enjoyment in teaching the large class has increased as well because her students are more enthusiastic about the course, often exceeding course requirements. Jean's commitment to student choice has empowered her students to take charge of their own learning and has transformed the mass lecture atmosphere into one of learner-centered communities.