4 Graduate Student Teaching Award Winners and Two Honor Rollers

We are pleased to announce that four of our graduate students have recently won the Graduate Students’ Teaching Award!

Fu Siling Charlene
Egor Ananyev
Gan Zheng Qiang Daniel
Yeo Geck Hong

Daniel and Geck Hong will be placed on the Honor Roll as this is the third time they have won the GSTA. Congratulations!!

Since Charlene and Egor are first-time winners, we also took the opportunity to find out what makes them such effective teachers.


What inspires you to teach?

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

As an undergraduate, there were two types of classes. The first were classes that I could not drag myself to, and could not wait to get out of. The second were classes that I wished were conducted every day of the week, and wished would last longer than they actually did. The topic of the class did not matter. What mattered was the way that the classes were conducted, and the passion of the instructors. These were the classes that included many activities or discussions that I felt invested and involved in, and were the classes I took away the most from. My main inspiration to teach is to create experiences that were like those classes, and to involve students as much as possible to maximize their learning during my lessons.

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

“Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten.” – B.F. Skinner

As a TA, my job is to conduct the class and cover the material assigned by the instructor of the class. This, in itself, can be a huge challenge, depending on the materials that we’ve been assigned to cover. Additionally, there are many other skills that I would like students to acquire over the course of their undergraduate education, which range from critical thinking skills to presentation skills, as well as confidence to speak up. I believe these are important skills and qualities that will go a long way in their future careers, but are also relatively intangible and very challenging to develop.

Why do you think you are an effective teacher?

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

With each semester and each module that I teach, I’m learning alongside with my students, working together with them to master the material, as well as learning more about teaching. I always ask my students to voice out anything about my teaching that does not work for them, and I genuinely have to thank my students for the honest feedback they have given me during the semester], which have helped me shape the subsequent classes. I’ve come to realize that teaching is very much a two-way interaction, and I’m only as effective a teacher as my students help me to be!


What inspires you to teach?

It became clear to me early on that the influence of a teacher goes far beyond formally acknowledged bounds of responsibility. I know for a fact that the quality of teaching could often determine the path that the person will take in their lives, as it did mine. And the multitude of approaches to teaching doesn’t mean that I can’t go wrong — I very well could. I’ve had some excellent teachers who completely enraptured me with their ideas and their passion for their area of study, — as well as teachers who had the most stultifying effect on my interest in their subject. Of course, when for the first time in my life confronted with the task of teaching, I wanted to be the former, and not the latter. So I took it as a challenge.

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

At first I thought that I simply had to teach the way I would like to be taught. But teaching turned out to be one of the most challenging parts of the graduate school that I have so far encountered. Einstein said “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” In trying to convey a difficult concept, I often found myself combating some of my own preconceptions; clarifying the gaps that I didn’t notice when the idea was not yet put into words; or seeing a bigger picture that went undetected yet seemed so obvious once discussed in class.  I quickly discovered that the extent to which I studied when I was a student was painfully insufficient in order to effectively lead a discussion; and even if I knew the answer, I couldn’t just give it away. Which leads to the next point.

Encouraging participation and creating a conducive environment for discussions was another major challenge. At first, almost everyone is apprehensive about speaking up — including, to some extent, myself. Eventually, however, the ice of the first days of the semester thaws and, once the students get to know myself and each other,  yields to constructive and creative discussions. I also realised that, as not everyone is born an extrovert, I had to provide a multitude of media to let each student express their ideas in the manner they preferred.

Why do you think you are an effective teacher?

Aside from some outstanding teachers who inspired me, I think that my background also helps me enrich the learning environment in a meaningful way. I am fortunate to be in cognitive psychology and study the very same processes that inform effective teaching. Through both my studies and my teaching, it became clear to me that there is no “understanding” if no connection is made to the context of the findings; there is no “logic” until the mechanisms of a certain process are explained; and there is no “interest” if the value of a phenomenon is not discussed in terms of real-world applications.

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