I have always believed that universities are “Learning Centers.” My education experiences were mostly related to assessing certain problem solving skills in addition to memorizing verbal facts. This kind of education system, in which students are waiting for the knowledge to be presented, lacks of synthesis and creation. Success measures are relative and only prove that students with better grades are the ones who adapted well to the system you set. I do not see much correlation between grades and intellect or grades and creativity/innovation potential. However, students should be critical thinkers who can synthesize and create new ideas. They should accept that knowledge is not going to be served to them on a silver platter. They should first be provided how to access related knowledge when they need with additional resources. Each student should gain research habits as a result of curiosity and activities created in the class. Learning how to learn is essential; being a life-long learner brings great difference.
Collaboration with the professor is a prerequisite for continues improvement. Decision process on policies and rules on how to conduct the class should involve the students. Continued feedback mechanisms should be provided for better assessment. My motto is “test frequently, feedback frequently.” As a professor, I would be like a coach who directs and gives them the space they need to show their understanding and interests while creating an interactive learning environment. I reward creative ideas and different perspectives brought to understanding of the problems by asking questions and letting students to ask their own questions. Analytical thinking and problem solving methodologies are important but the modeling approaches are the art part. I believe that 90% of solving a problem is modeling it. Rather than serving, addressing them ready-to-go task, i will let them to discuss and explore the subject matter with peer discussions, case studies, and online forums. Grades should not be the main focus; they will know that their effort is rewarded. Retention of knowledge can be assessed well in a non-threatening but challenging environment supported by class writings, homework, team projects, lab sessions, and especially interactive games.
I try hard not to speak about personal issues (i.e. religion, race) unless it is related to hypothesis in the subject matter. I want the students to feel that I treat everybody equally regardless of beliefs, backgrounds, and cultures. Our classroom discussions should be unbiased, full of curiosity, and based on pure scientific approaches, arguments, and theories. They will be asked “why?” frequently in order to establish life-long questioners, who know to ask the correct question at the correct time. I challenge them by setting the bar high but just high enough for them to get over it. I want my students to know that I do care about them and evolve myself based on our experience we live together in the classroom.