WWS' Daniel Oppenheimer, being honored by the Princeton chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for excellence in undergraduate teaching
By Ian Cahir
The Princeton University chapter of Phi Beta Kappa will honor Daniel Oppenheimer, associate professor of psychology and public affairs, and Michael Smith, the McCosh Professor of Philosophy, with its annual awards for excellence in undergraduate teaching. The awards will be presented at the Phi Beta Kappa induction ceremony, which will be held at 9 a.m. Monday, June 4, in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, prior to the graduating seniors' Class Day ceremony.
Princeton students elected to the academic honor society have selected recipients of the teaching prize annually since 2004. The students define the criteria for excellence in teaching as: skill in instruction; commitment to working with and building relationships with undergraduates; and ability to spark students' intellectual interests. Each winner is presented with a plaque.
Oppenheimer, who has been a Princeton faculty member since 2004, focuses his research on causal reasoning, judgment and decision-making. In 2011, he was awarded a President's Award for Distinguished Teaching.
Oppenheimer is particularly known among students for teaching "Introduction to Psychology" each year, in which he engages the class through methods such as showing optical illusions and offering bags of M&Ms to students who volunteer for classroom demonstrations. He also has taught a Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs undergraduate policy task force on higher education testing, as well as graduate courses on psychology and policy and on accountability in higher education.
Senior Nathaniel Fleming wrote in his recommendation that Oppenheimer's lectures "succeed at making the material personally meaningful and accessible to students while also maintaining a high degree of intellectual rigor."
Fleming added that "Oppenheimer's teaching goes far beyond his lectures" and that "he has been a warm, affable guide who makes the study of psychology deeply personal and meaningful."