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During the past three years, I have had the opportunity to experience different teaching roles at Auburn University. My teaching experience began as a graduate teaching assistant (GTA) for a variety of courses. My GTA work was acknowledged by the department when I was trusted to be the instructor of INSY3600: Engineering Economics and teach this course independently with full responsibilities. For this course in Spring and Summer 2013, I had the responsibility of creating a student-centered learning environment for 60 students and assigning duties to two graduate teaching assistants. Being an instructor at Auburn University along with lessens I learned from the professors whom I worked for as GTA evolved my teaching philosophy.
At the heart of my teaching philosophy is my belief that the role of a teacher is not only to lecture the course, but also he should inspire the students and stimulate their creativities. In my opinion, this strong belief incorporates two core principles, iterative process of learning and effective communication between instructor and students. The former helps students to move forward through the steps of Bloom’s taxonomy from remembering to creating. The latter helps the instructor to inspire students more effectively and help them better comprehend course materials. I take advantage of different tools such as homework assignments, multiple midterm exams and a project in the course syllabus to ensure that the iterative process of learning occurs. The project is critical for students’ learning since it would allow them to synthesize what they have learned and work on something practical that can be applied to a real-life problem.
One of my most dearly held beliefs is that it is the professor’s responsibility to help students learn how to learn. It is a very important skill for students in our ever-changing world where technology advancements change human needs and expectations rapidly. In my classes, I organize a discussion forum such that students take more responsibility for their own education. I post related articles and real-world problems and motivate students to critique the article, share their opinion and discuss different aspects of the subject matter together. By carefully designing such special discussions, students can explore their own intellectual capabilities in a cooperative environment, which triggers their creativity and completes the learning process.
Furthermore, professors as role models for students play significant roles in preparing them for future careers. To achieve this ultimate goal, a professor should voluntarily share his information with students and advise them considering their backgrounds and career goals. I aim at informing my students at the possibilities of graduate school and potential career tracks based on graduate school. I would endeavor to provide my students with all the help and information they need to pursue a career where they can accomplish greatness.
Last but not the least, I strongly believe that a teacher must update his knowledge and improve his teaching skills on a continuous basis. In my opinion, students will be more motivated and inspired by a teacher who uses cutting-edge resources and incorporates modern media in his teaching. I will continue to challenge myself by adapting more effective teaching styles and continuously evolving the course content to match the ever-changing needs of students, industry and academia. In the meanwhile, I will continue to promote a high level of expectation for my students, both in the classroom and afterwards in their professional career.
In the evaluation surveys conducted by Auburn University at the end of the semesters, dozens of students specifically mentioned that they enjoyed my teaching style, my communication skills inside and outside the classroom and how enthusiastic I am about my teaching responsibilities. These very strong feedbacks from students helped me to earn the trust of the department even more such that they offered me to teach the same course in Fall 2013 for a larger class with 110 students and four graduate teaching assistants.