3 Graduate Student Teaching Award Winners

We are pleased to announce that three of our graduate students have recently won the Graduate Students’ Teaching Award (GSTA) for Semester 2 AY2017/2018!


1. What inspires you to teach?

Students are resilient and impressive beings who are capable of a lot more than they give themselves credit for. Going into the classroom each time means a renewed opportunity to impart not just skills and content knowledge to them, but also to inculcate in them the right mindsets and beliefs. To help students know they are able to and can change the trajectories of their learning no matter where they stand at the moment can radically change their outlook and approach to learning—to see each of them leave my class better than when they came in is what inspires me to teach.

2. What are some of the major challenges you face as a teacher?

In classes where students may not know one another, and given that they are in the age-group of fearing humiliation and ‘looking stupid’, classes can get real quiet at times, especially at the beginning of a semester. This is a challenge as when there are no productive discussions, there can be no learning, no improvement. My students and I always manage to work around that problem by me making it mandatory for them to ask questions to presenting groups, or at least giving a constructive comment. And I am happy that students always rise up to the occasion and these always turn into fruitful discussions!

3. Why do you think you are an effective teacher?

Students made mention in their feedback that they find me approachable, inspiring, and am clear in my teaching. I am thankful to be able to deliver difficult concepts in ways that are digestible to students, and to be able to be there for them when they have questions that need answered.

I hope to continue to inspire my students, and to instil in them a mindset of growth and grit—to let them know that they can change things right where they are and they are not products of their past.

In the limited time I have with them, I can only hope to instil in them the right beliefs, for those are what will see them through their lives beyond the university.

Yia Chin

1. What inspires you to teach?

I believe most/all of us would have met great teachers at some point in our lives. I certainly have. I still remember these teachers actually, and I am really grateful to them for imparting their knowledge on the subject, their passion for learning and for influencing me (in a positive way!) to be who I am today. That inspires me to do my best in teaching—to pay forward the kindness I have received!

2. What are some of the major challenges you face as a teacher?

One of the primary challenges I’m trying to tackle is to get students to look beyond their grades and to focus more on the underlying skills learnt in the process. I would also like them to think more about what they want to do with their lives, to examine whether chasing after good grades fits into that bigger picture, and to be more proactive towards obtaining what they want. It can be very challenging to do this as we live in a very grade-focused society, so our students tend to “instinctively” chase after good grades without questioning what it is for. Fortunately, attitudes are slowly shifting and I have received some very encouraging responses from my students (e.g., some students informed me that they were spurred on by my “nagging” at them such that they took steps to venture out and sought working/volunteering experiences at organizations they are interested in or for causes they are passionate about). I am very heartened by these responses and am motivated to continue putting forth effort in tackling this meaningful challenge!

3. Why do you think you are an effective teacher?

I was an undergraduate here myself just a few years ago, so I think that helps me to really relate to my students.

I think once students see that you understand them and are “on their side”, a sense of connection and trust is built which greatly facilitates the subsequent learning experience.


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