OTICA recipient Dr. MacDonald discusses his teaching style

by Lisa Spellman, UNMC public relations | April 23, 2012

Richard MacDonald, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, will be honored at Wednesday's Annual Faculty meeting for receiving the University of Nebraska's Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award (OTICA) for 2012.

He is the seventh UNMC faculty member to win the OTICA since it was first handed out in 1992.

Watch a video about Dr. MacDonald.
While Dr. MacDonald had no formal educational training before he took his first faculty position at UNMC, he has emerged as one of the top teachers on campus.

He has:

  • Won UNMC's Outstanding Teacher of the Year award three times;
  • Developed new courses; and
  • Routinely receives high evaluations from his students.

Dr. MacDonald uses an innovative teaching style that incorporates 21st century tools and goals in a multidisciplinary environment to fully engage medical and graduate students.

Below he answers a few questions about his teaching style.

How do you keep your students engaged and excited about what they are learning?

My mentors in education taught me to always keep the message simple and relevant. For medical students, this means focusing the material on what is essential to understand the pathophysiology of disease. For graduate students, this manifests in application of the material.

What do you do to stay current in your field and how do you incorporate that into the curriculum you teach?

I read literature both in my research area and in the broader areas that I teach, always looking for new information and useful ways to make classical chemical principles relevant to modern biology. I also keep up with the latest editions of biochemistry, cancer and cellular biology, and physiology textbooks to keep tabs on what newer topics have been incorporated as textbook-level knowledge.

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