Being a teacher is one of the most rewarding jobs in the world. My father was a passionate teacher and I grew up wanting to become one. In my view, teachers inspire students to apply the best of their talents, and motivate them to develop themselves in ways that are beyond their own imagination. As a teacher, I see my role as a facilitator in the student’s learning process, a guide in the student’s journey of knowledge exploration, and a cheerleader in difficult and challenging times. Learning occurs most effectively when the student actively participates in the process, rather than just being taught passively. As such, my years of experience as a teacher have shaped my teaching philosophy to center on two fundamental principles: cultivating student curiosity and stimulating active learning.
Cultivating Student Curiosity
Effective learning occurs when students are curious. To stimulate and sustain student interest in the course, I find it critical to create a knowledge gap, and then give the students the tools they can use to close the gap on their own. Motivated by the theory of information gap, I usually begin a new topic by creating a mystery, an intellectual puzzle, or a mental paradox that builds an information gap in the students’ minds. Students are compelled to learn by this thirst for knowledge, not by my preaching. Some of the examples I use to create information gaps are available at my course blog: it150.wordpress.com
Moreover, interests and desire to learn come from real-world examples and personal experiences. Demonstrating systems, applying technical skills to solve business problems, and discussing current events in the news are among the many approaches that I take to cultivate interests. To help students connect the course materials with real business issues, I try to recreate complex business issues in the classroom setting. For example, I frequently invite corporate speakers to visit class to share with students the challenges they experience in their business practices. I also enjoy engaging students in debates over controversial issues. Similarly, I often use business cases to provoke thinking and to provide settings for applying newly acquired concepts. Moreover, I always encourage students to apply hands-on skills, including using software tools to enhance personal productivity, and designing prototype systems to validate and refine conceptual understanding.
Stimulating Active Learning
My greatest accomplishment as an educator is to guide students in applying new knowledge and in discovering new ways of thinking. It is critical for each student to engage critical, creative, and reflective thinking, and not just rote memory. To achieve this goal, I integrate a number of techniques into class design. Specifically, I focus on stimulating active learning at two levels: participation and collaboration. To encourage students to talk and ask questions, I use a variety of interactive learning techniques in class. When students are actively involved in the classroom discussion, they are more likely to build critical thinking and problem solving skills. Furthermore, getting students to work together in formal project teams helps them build relationships and learn from each other through peer interaction. At the same time, students engage in active learning as they participate in the analysis, design, and implementation of their group project.
While working at University of Pittsburgh and Carlow University, I have been involved extensively in the undergraduate IS curriculum development effort at the University of Pittsburgh, including re-designing course materials for the core and elective courses (i.e. slides, quiz competitions, assignments, videos, and readings), building relationships with academic advisors and career services, surveying students, and developing corporate relations. I have also been maintaining a blog about the MIS program at Carlow University: carlowitm.wordpress.com, and the MIS job market in the regional area: itmjobspgh.wordpress.com. These efforts have paid off and have been received very positively by my students, their advisors, and other faculty members in the university community.
In addition to having a strong passion for higher education, I have accumulated more than ten years of experience in teaching both undergraduate and graduate level courses. These experiences confirm my belief that teaching is an art that needs continuous attention to refinement. I strive to constantly improve my teaching skills by attending teaching seminars, exchanging ideas with peers, inviting continuous feedback from students, and reviewing various teaching resources for insights. With these efforts, I am confident that I can make valuable contributions when I join the faculty.