Teaching Philosophy

My experience of "teaching" began when I was five years old. My parents are both middle school teachers, and my favorite game in childhood was to role play as a teacher with my friends. Since that time many years as a student and my experience as a teacher has slowly developed the "teacher" inside me. I strongly believe that the goal of education is to learn not to teach and a teacher should be a facilitator, a motivator, a guide, and a mentor beyond a content-reciter to the students.

Being enthusiastic about the material I'm teaching and establishing a positive rapport with students have been my primary guiding principles as a teacher. It is no surprise that I've gotten the same advice about teaching from my TA supervisor Dr. Keiser, a teaching faculty at a major research university, and my mother, a middle school math teacher: the most essential things for a teacher are a genuine enthusiasm for the course materials and to care the students as individuals. The effectiveness of this philosophy is demonstrated by the high TA evaluations I've received from students and recognition received from the Chemistry Department for my teaching. I will continue this successful record by being eager to learn new course material, caring about the students and communicating with them, being prepared to change according to feedback, and being demanding without being discouraging.

My objectives as a college chemistry teacher are to foster problem-solving and critical thinking skills, and encourage students to become life-long learner. Whereas some teaching methodologies are universal, teaching always needs to be tailored according to the subject, level and the audience. Principles and theories of chemistry are mostly induced from experimental observations and then be applied to deduce new findings. Chemical education should emphasize concepts and problem-solving skills instead of memorizing equations and theories. Different aspects of chemistry such as history, current development, and applications to the real world integrated to chemical education enhance students' enjoyment and improve learning. I prefer to use demonstrations, examples, and discussions to create a more interactive environment for teaching chemistry. Course content aside, it is also important for college teaching to help the students prepare for future career life. Oral and written communication can be improved by presentations, discussions and formal report writing. Special projects designed for students to work by themselves with minimal guidance improve their critical thinking skills and independence.

In recent years, undergraduate research has gained significant attention in chemical education. Involving undergraduates in research may take different forms depending on resources and faculty interest. Faculty-directed research projects, summer research internships, and mini-research projects in regular courses are all possible ways to provide research experience. An example of incorporating research to teaching is that senior undergraduates can take new research courses to replace the traditional lab courses. In these courses, students get a chance to conduct a semester-long research project early in their career. Other simpler approaches include integrating research into a course such as special lab projects. Such assignments promote active learning and deeper engagement with the course materials.

Technology when properly applied can transform the classroom into an exciting and vibrant learning environment. Audio and visual aids help to emphasize the important points, video clips visualize concepts for better understanding; course websites and blackboard system encourage discussion. More novel teaching technology such as class response systems and podcasting can also be effective aids.

In conclusion, I consider teaching to be very important for an academic career and have endeavored to prepare myself for that role. Being a successful teacher will involve hard work, self evaluation, and subsequent revision, but I am confident that it will be a rewarding journey.