Lee Li Neng and Chan Kai Qin recently did the department proud by winning Graduate Students’ Teaching Awards. For winning the award three times, Li Neng has also been placed on the Honour Roll. Congratulations, Li Neng and Kai Qin!
To find out what made them such effective teachers, we asked Kai Qin a number of questions. (Li Neng’s responses can be found here.)
What inspires you to teach?
I love what I teach. Psychology is an interesting subject to teach (and to learn) and that inspires me to teach it well. Some students take psychology because of its potential applied applications; some take it because they want to understand something about the world. There is always something for every student that knowledge of psychology can satisfy and that makes it very exciting to teach!
Why do you think you are an effective teacher?
I make an effort to know each student beyond their names and faces. Knowing each student provides a critical backdrop to my classroom teaching. When they are early for class, or during breaks, I take the chance to ask them what motivates them to take psychology, and some of them will inevitably share their own side of their story. For example, some students have frequent interactions with their nephews and nieces and always wondered how children develop. For these students, I encouraged them to share their observations of their nieces and nephews when the topic is on developmental psychology, and attempt to bring in knowledge from developmental psychology to make sense of their experiences.
In addition, I constanly upgrade my teaching skills by consult teaching resources (books, APS magazine, etc.) and attend teaching seminars to improve my teaching. Effective teaching is, in part, a learnt skill, and there will always be things that I can learn from others in the field.
At the end of the day, what makes teaching worthwhile for you?
The expression on their faces that tells me that they have gotten something meaningful out of the class makes all the effort worthwhile. I have found that often, it is not just learning the content that makes them excited, but also learning the process of thinking (challenging hidden assumptions, looking at things from another perspective, etc.).