Statement of Teaching Philosophy
Teaching, in my philosophy, includes three important elements—enthusiasm, inspiration, and guidance. Not only should a good instructor be a knowledge disseminator but also a great story teller. The ability of conveying abstractly physical concepts using daily-life experiences and plain language is a crucial key. I believe this skill becomes more essential nowadays due to the increasing multidisciplinary nature of modern research and technologies. In engineering we usually like starting with a complex phenomenon but ending up with a simplified expression. On the contrary, however, teaching requires to work from basics to complexity. Arousing students’ curiosity, potentiality, and creativity is always the ultimate goal in a classroom. Since teaching is not anymore a conventional one-way expression, I would encourage discussions and interactions from students to have them digest what they learn instead of just listening. This is not to say I tend to create a stomach-turning class environment, the objective behind the idea is mainly to invite their participation in class.
Several common strategies can be used to promote an effective learning environment and evaluate students’ learning progress. Use of real world and open-ended problems allow students to derive solutions combining their personal perceptions and experiences. Upon the availability of peripheral equipments, supplemental and multimedia materials can be offered online for those who can’t attend classes physically or performing remedial teaching. While developing creative teaching strategies, traditional homework, lecture, and textbook reading assignment are still necessary for enhancing students’ learning effects. Also, I feel having high expectations for students and maintaining a mutual trust relationship with them are requisite attitudes for an instructor. Taking into consideration that undergraduate and graduate students have different goals and fundamental trainings, different requirements and disciplines should be applied. My undergraduate level courses will emphasize on scientific fundamentals and engineering trainings. The gist of courses aims to cultivate a potential engineer who has the sufficient knowledge and tools to work on most engineering challenges. In contrast, my graduate level courses will impart advanced theories as well as specific applications to encourage their thinkings. A well trained student should be able to define a problem, excavate the truth behind a problem, and work independently.
As an educator, I would rather hold my standard flexible for students’ academic grades but no compromise to their morality. Since more young people choose to pursue higher education nowadays, we have to face a variety of student behaviors. Plagiarism, cheating, and falsified data seem to be more common now than ever. Personally I realize academic performance should not be the only consideration to judge a student. Personality, especially morality despite invisible, should receive more attention whenever engaging with normal school assignments or cutting edge research. I believe academic achievements are only the admission bringing a person to the spotlight of a stage. The real permanent driver that guarantees a long-term success is still morality. With morality research integrity can be spontaneously maintained, so that education can show its best values to students as well as our society.
Specifically, the four main areas that I would like to teach initially are fluid mechanics, micro/nano-scale physics in fluids, BioMEMS/NEMS-related technologies, and optical diagnostics. They are also fit in with my research interests and expertise. I expect that the last three subjects will be taught with heavy emphasis on practical examples. The four areas provide from basic to advanced theories of fluid mechanics. Comprehensive understanding of the state-of-the-art micro/nanofluidics including designs, fabrications, characterizations, and applications is also expected. Especially, the courses will contain my almost 10-year experiences.
Throughout my scholastic career, I have had the opportunity to learn much wonderful knowledge from many inspiring people. Their charisma and erudition motivated me to follow their paths to inspire more others. Although an instructor is endowed with the privilege of teaching and grading students, I believe the enthusiasm and pursuit of the truth of science should never be stopped. We never know whether what is true today will be wrong tomorrow or vice verse. As a result, learning is not only for a student but also for an instructor himself. Socrates, known as the greatest Greek philosopher and left many classic aphorisms, still repeatedly mentioned his deficiency in knowledge in his life. He said: “The only wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” If we can realize that our personal contribution and knowledge occupy only a small fraction of the universe, maybe we will be more humbly keep our minds open and free our souls from the shackles of our stereotypes in all aspects.