Dr. Edwin D. Bell is Professor of Education at Winston-Salem State University. His peers describe him as calm, reflective, and supportive. Over the course of his teaching career, Dr. Bell has developed a philosophy of education built on constructivism, existentialism, and social learning theory. Students translate this categorization to mean that Dr. Bell is caring, patient, and knowledgeable.
A previous recipient of the Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching summarized Dr. Bell's teaching with these remarks: "He establishes an environment in which students are willing to take risks. They feel safe to try [innovative things] and to make mistakes. He supports them and scaffolds them as they struggle through their zones of proximal development."
This quote supports what Dr. Bell says about his educational philosophy: "Constructivism informs my belief that individuals create their own truth and knowledge out of their own experiences. What this means for my teaching is that it must connect to the background that my students bring to class and that the knowledge and skills which I attempt to teach them must connect to their own perceived needs. If my teaching is effective, my students will be able to process the knowledge and skills of the instructional objectives of a particular course into the operational behavior of their personal and professional lives. They make this happen through the decisions and choices that they make."
In addition to constructivism, Dr. Bell's educational philosophy is influenced by existentialism and social learning theory. He believes that while students may not have control over many of the events in their lives, they have control over the choices they make. He models best practices in his classes, models cultural competence, and empowers students to develop a pattern of decision making that creates an environment of freedom for themselves and others.
Dr. Bell teaches both graduate and undergraduate students. Both groups applaud his patience and his availability to listen, mentor, and motivate them. It is not surprising that his course evaluations are consistently rated five on a five point scale.
In 2008, Dr. Bell was the recipient of the Wilveria B. Atkinson Research Award. In addition to his own research on pedagogy and social learning theory, he received a NC Quest grant to train elementary and secondary teachers in pedagogies to improve student learning. He uses his research and professional development activities to continuously enrich not only his own teaching, knowledge, skills, and disposition, but those of other professionals.
Dr. Bell's scholarship informs his teaching and he guides his students in reflective practice and action research. For example, one of his graduate students conducted action research on the effectiveness of a training module that was designed to assist teachers who taught reading to students with limited English proficiency. In the paper, the student described how she took an unsuccessful teaching experience, conducted action research in her classroom and the classrooms of other teachers, and discovered elements of the experience that could lead to a successful learning experience for students. Clearly, the graduate student operationalized the methodologies she learned from Dr. Bell on conducting research to improve teaching and learning.
Dr. Bell earned degrees from Bowdoin College, Boston College, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in psychology, community and social psychology, and educational leadership. He was also trained as an organizational development consultant in the National Training Laboratories Organizational Development network. His publications and research focus on organizational development, program assessment, multicultural education, and the integration of technology into education.