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Ning Zhang, Ph.D. - Teaching Philosophy

Ning Zhang, Ph.D. - Teaching Philosophy

When I think of teaching the first thoughts that come into my mind are convey of knowledge and development of critical thinking skills. My main goals for the students are to have them learn the facts and principles related to mechanical engineering, to learn how and when to apply them, and to understand why we are learning all that.

Students need motivations to continue learning. As a teacher, I have learned that there are several ways to motivate the students, and they are:

  1. The students need to be convinced that what they are learning in class is important for them;
  2. I need to give responsibility to the students to bring something to the class;
  3. The students need to feel that they belong to a community (the class group) and therefore they are responsible for each other;
  4. The content of the class should not be the only variable parameter in the class.

The first issue I usually address it by bringing daily lift examples and hand-on experiences. The second and third issues, which are related to students' responsibilities in the class, I address them by making the students feel that the class belongs to all of us and not only to me. I may ask students to take turns to solve problems on the board, and ask others to give feedback. The fourth issue is essential for developing students' creativity and discovery which are important skills in an engineer. I try to bring something new in each class: a new active learning method, Power Point slides, online information, current research related to the topic of that day, etc.

Direct interaction between instructor and students is our strength of teaching at McNeese. I believe direct interaction dictates the outcomes of student learning. I prefer heads-up learning in the classroom, and encourage students asking questions during their learning.