3 Graduate Student Teaching Award Winners (Semester 1 AY2020/2021)

We are pleased to announce that three of our graduate students have recently won the Graduate Students’ Teaching Award (GSTA) for Semester 1 AY2020/2021!


1. What inspires you to teach?

I am inspired to teach because I believe that psychology is too important to be hidden in journal articles that no one reads (oops). I guess it helps that I enjoy breaking down complex concepts too—after all, there’s nothing better than seeing a student’s eyes light up when they finally understand a difficult concept.

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

One of the greatest challenges I face is trying to reach out to everyone. To me, this is very important—how can I make sure that even the most disinterested student finds the lesson engaging and meaningful? This is no doubt challenging with limited time and resources, but I pride myself in ensuring that my lessons resonate with everyone.

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

I think I’m an effective teacher because I’ve had the benefit of attending some really fantastic tutorials as an undergraduate, so I know what makes a great tutorial. For example, Ranjith and Vania’s tutorials explained the content so clearly that I felt all ready to get an A for the respective courses; Dr Suendermann’s tutorials married theory with practice so well that I felt all ready to tackle the real world; and Prof Eddie’s seminars highlighted his passion so much that it inspired me to conduct research in social psychology. By weaving together these (and a lot more) ideals, I am able to synthesize a teaching style that is (hopefully) effective and fun.

Most importantly, I am an effective teacher because my students assist me in being effective—special shoutout to everyone who has so kindly given me feedback along the way as I work to upgrade my teaching style 🙂


1. What inspires you to teach?

Teaching is something I hold close to my heart and I see it as a way of paying it forward. I’ve been greatly blessed to have been mentored by many inspirational teachers over the years who genuinely cared about my learning and personal growth. This is what propels me onwards as an educator, and it is my sincerest hope that I’ll one day be able to give to my students what my teachers so unconditionally gave to me.

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

A silent classroom.

I think this is something most teachers can empathise with to some extent. We’re not mind-readers, and it’s really hard to tell if your students are quiet because they completely understand your explanation, or because they’re just too afraid to speak up (in my experience, it’s often the latter haha). This issue was magnified this semester due to the COVID-19 restrictions, where most tutorials were moved to Zoom. Even with their cameras on, it’s tremendously difficult to read the body language of students when they’re represented as tiny (and sometimes laggy) squares on the screen.

To overcome this, I make sure to take the time to verbally ask my classes if they have any questions at the end of each logical segment before moving on to the next. I also prompt students who may feel self-conscious about voicing their doubts in front of the class to remain behind after everyone has left and to ask their questions then. These may be small gestures, but they certainly help encourage students to speak up during lessons or, at the very least, feel comfortable enough to seek clarification when they need to.

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

It may seem obvious, but preparation work really does go a long way.

I believe it’s essential for teachers – especially when you’re teaching something complicated – to not only plan what concepts you want to touch on, but also how you intend to bring them across. As humans, we are intrinsically drawn to narratives, and I try my best to have my lesson plans adopt the semblance of one; mostly through ensuring that my points flow from one to another in a clear, structured, and coherent manner.

I also supplement my teaching of key concepts with a combination of different learning aids (e.g., illustrations, examples, analogies, and personal anecdotes) in order to maximise clarity.

Lastly, I see teaching as a full-time responsibility and as a tutor, I believe that I have a duty of care that extends beyond the confides of the classroom. This often translates into ensuring that I am easily contactable by students throughout the week – be it for consultations on the module content or for simple clarifications regarding assignment requirements.


1. What inspires you to teach?

As someone who wants to pursue a career in academia, it is likely that I’ll need to teach quite regularly in the future. I want to be able to teach well to avoid being lamented as a professor who can only do research.

I want to let students know what it means to “understand” something.

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

​I find it particularly difficult to keep students engaged in topics that they do not already have an interest in. I’m still working on how to make less interesting topics more engaging for students, stay tuned.

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

I’m not sure, but it might be because I try to explain things step-by-step to make it easier for students to understand and let them know that if they don’t understand something, they can ask for help any time.


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