University of Nebraska-Lincoln
227J Hamilton Hall
Lincoln, NE 68588-0304
I believe one of the most important components to effective teaching is deriving pleasure in helping students learn. This is accomplished through preparation and an evolution of teaching skills on a continuous basis. The amount of time an instructor puts into preparation directly translates into how the students learn. Many students fear chemistry will only be collection of facts and figures they need to memorize which have nothing to do with the world outside the classroom. I enjoy watching students to become excited about the subject as they connect information presented in class to something at home, work, or elsewhere. Whenever possible, practical examples can be used to stimulate interest and understanding. The ultimate goal for the instructor is to communicate new information to students, not just in memorizing the facts, but also to learn how to think and apply the knowledge they’ve acquired.
During lecture, students are exposed to a stream of organized information which is intended to provide them with a rational basis to understanding the subject. Understanding is enhanced when the information is not only clear and organized but presented in a manner which is more casual rather than dry lecturing. In many introductory and general chemistry courses, instructors often ask students to take a leap of faith when learning new material. Many fundamental building blocks of the subject are rather abstract, and some aspects are often taught in reduced form in order to quickly lead students to see the big picture. In order to take the leap of faith, students must trust the lecturer enough to accept the possibility of the unfamiliar ideas. I believe trust in the instructor is an outgrowth of the desire to teach. When students see that their instructor has a passion for teaching and for the subject, they have an easier time accepting difficult material because they trust the instructor.
Students should feel comfortable about approaching their instructor with questions in and outside of class. Many students are afraid the instructor will think less of them if they ask a question. The instructor should try to cultivate trust and deal fairly with each student. One of the things I enjoy most about teaching is getting to know the students and helping them learn.
I also believe students deserve a quality education. Students and their families are paying large sums of money each semester for the university to provide them with the knowledge and skills they will use later on in life. Most students take and use chemistry as a stepping stone to help them understand the subject matter in their chosen field. I not only want students to enjoy chemistry but to receive a quality chemical education which will provide a solid basis in their understanding of other subjects.