Goals and Methodology
Teaching is an important activity in our society. Although rapidly developing technologies have produced many new methods, teaching -- a profession with a long history -- is still at the center of transferring knowledge from one person to many others. In fact, teaching has become even more important because people have to learn so much more information, and master much more finely defined classes of disciplines than before.
I enjoy teaching because my knowledge gets passed on, and my students will no longer be ignorant in that subject matter. This feeling is probably the best gift to a teacher, including me.
I view teaching as a communication of knowledge and ideas between the teacher and students. A successful teaching session needs careful thinking, imaginative designing, clear presentation, and frequent evaluation and updating. Therefore, I make the course structure, content and requirements very clear, so students know what they will learn from the courses. At the beginning of the course, I also provide students with a clear and comprehensive course syllabus, requirements, and evaluation metrics.
I believe that the communication in teaching is bidirectional. It is important that the teacher put his/her knowledge forward in the communication process, but it is equally -- if not more -- important, that students should contribute their knowledge and ideas to the process as well. Students are strongly encouraged in my courses to actively participate in the course delivery. Before each class, students are asked to put their notes about the readings online for me and other students to examine, some of their reading questions will be incorporated into the class content to be discussed during the session. Students are also encouraged to submit one content topic that they feel they did not understand. This so called "muddiest point" is discussed in the next class. Students are also required to answer each other's questions on Courseweb. All these requirements and interactions help students to more actively participate in my courses.
I believe that theories and practical knowledge are both important in the learning process. Theories provide guidance and processed knowledge about a domain or a discipline. On the other hand, practical experience helps students to convert abstract concepts and rules into concrete skills, thus developing their own knowledge about the domain and the discipline. This is why I always incorporate a hands-on project in my classes where students have to learn how to find a practical solution to a real-life problem.
I encourage students to develop social and team collaboration skills in my classes. Under the current social and technological environment, it is unrealistic for students to believe that they can solve their problems all by themselves. The skills of negotiation and collaboration are just as important as their knowledge of the domain and the discipline. When it is possible, I always incorporate a group term project as part of the course design. Through working as a team, students learn to collaborate and to negotiate. Also, they can develop much larger and more realistic projects than they can undertake as individuals.I believe strongly in the power of mentoring in the learning process. I benefited a great deal from excellent mentoring during my studies and my post-doctoral training. I actively encourage students, especially doctoral students, to engage in my research projects as early as possible in their studies. I meet with them regularly in both individual and group settings. I always strongly encourage them to publish their research achievements, and I make sure that I provide adequate and sensible help in their publication efforts. Most of my publications are authored with a student, and almost all my doctoral students have at least one publication so far.
Like other practitioners in the field, my basic philosophy of teaching is evolving along with my expanding understanding of the teaching/learning process. At the same time, like my research areas, the courses that I teach are greatly affected by the rapid research and commercial developments in these fields. Therefore, I update the course materials each time that I offer each of the courses. I enjoy this challenge, and view this as a sign of my ability to adapt to the new developments in technology. My continual evolution as a teacher demonstrates my pro-active attitude towards our profession as educators.
This site was last updated 01/06/2012