December 2017 Newsletter
Economics Faculty Member Honored with College of Social Science Teaching Award
Dean Rachel Croson presents the College of Social Science Alumni Outstanding Teaching Award to Todd Elder at the Spring 2017 Commencement Ceremony.
Todd Elder, Associate Professor of Economics, was chosen as the winner of the 2017 College of Social Science Alumni Outstanding Teaching Award. This came as no surprise to his colleagues on the economics faculty, as Todd has established a reputation as one of the best teachers in a department known for its commitment to quality teaching.
Todd came to MSU in 2006, and since then has taught both undergraduates and Ph.D. students. One of the undergraduate courses he regularly teaches, Introduction to Econometrics, is required for all economics majors and is recognized to be one of the most challenging courses in economics. It has become well known among students, however, that when you take this course Prof. Elder is the instructor you want to have: his sections fill up almost immediately after they are opened. It is not because Todd is an easy instructor, but because he is an excellent teacher of difficult subject matter.
What sets Todd apart as an extraordinary teacher is not innovative teaching technique, but the fact that, through a combination of willingness, effort, and ability, he does the things that are necessary to make the venerable lecture-and-discussion teaching method highly effective. In comments on Todd’s teaching evaluations, a surprising number of students identify him as the best professor they have ever had at MSU. It also contributes to Todd’s effectiveness that students perceive his enthusiasm for the subject matter he teaches, and his commitment to ensuring that students are really learning it. As one of his students put it, he is obviously “passionate about econometrics and concerned about how well students learn the material.”
Todd is an asset to our graduate program as well, as a teacher in our graduate sequence on labor economics who has been a member of over 20 dissertation committees. Todd’s graduate teaching reflects a belief that graduate instruction is not only about teaching higher level theory and econometrics but also about contributing to the professional development of future scholars, through identifying the actions and attitudes necessary to becoming a successful economist, and helping Ph.D. students to begin to see themselves as “peers in the profession”.
We are fortunate to have Todd as a part of the economics department, and pleased that his teaching ability and contributions have been formally recognized by the College of Social Sciences.