During my 28 years of teaching career, I taught a wide variety of courses ranging from introductory level, applied statistics to Ph.D. level courses. Teaching is exciting and demanding. I enjoy teaching and enjoy conducting research in investigating how learning takes place. During the recent years, I have been devoting myself in investigating how students learn statistical concepts and spend a great deal of my energy for supervising students. Teaching is also rewarding in many ways. One is through students’ achievement and the other is through the recognition of teaching excellence. During these years at CMU, I have been nominated twice for the College of Science & Technology Teaching Award, twice for the University Teaching Award, and once for the State of Michigan Outstanding Teaching Award Competition.
Confucius said ‘Learning without thinking, one will soon be confused; Thinking without doing, one can never completely understand the material’ 2000 years ago. This statement has a great impact on my teaching. My teaching philosophy and methods have evolved through these years. I believe that students learn better (1) when they are actively involved in the process of learning, (2) when they are engaged in activities that are related to their own experiences, not strictly those activities that we, as teachers, think are interesting, (3) when they see the big picture and how the big picture means to them, and (4) when they are properly assessed of their knowledge learned. From learning theory standpoint of view, these are essential components of social constructivism learning theory and the framework of metacognition.
During the recent decade, I have been experimenting a variety of teaching pedagogy and reading a wide variety of literature related to learning and teaching. A major outcome from the reading and experimentation is a teaching model I developed, namely the PACE model. PACE stands for Projects, hands-on Activities, Cooperative learning in a computer classroom environment and Exercises for reinforcement. The principles of the PACE model are
(1) People learn better by constructing knowledge themselves through guided processes,
(2) Practice and feedback are essential ingredients for learning new concepts, and
(3) Active problem solving through teamwork promotes active learning.
Thanks to the NSF for supporting the development of a real time online hands-on activity web database to host a variety of hands-on activities. This is an exciting project. A variety of assessment and research activities will be conducted to investigate the effectiveness of conducting real –time hands-on activities.
The use of technology has been an integral part of my teaching. Whenever possible, I try to integrate my instruction with technology. The technology can be the use of statistical software, online assessment, web site material distribution, online data sets, and so on. In fact, the PACE approach is a technology-rich teaching model.
Teaching at university has always been my choice of career. I have been enjoying it most of time. Occasionally, I was frustrated by students’ lack of attitudes and efforts. This motivates my interest in learning about how people learn and have become interested in conducting research to investigate how students learn quantitative concepts, and getting a deep involvement in student learning outcomes assessment during the recent years. My involvement in assessment includes serving as the university assessment coordinator for two years, serving and chairing the university assessment council and overarching educational goals committee for four years, and leading the department assessment activities for five years. The experience has been unique and invaluable. It provided me the opportunity to polish my communication and management skills, and gave me the momentum to continue experimenting innovative teaching strategies that may lead to improve student learning.