Life Long Learning:
I had the opportunity to be educated in England after emigrating from Peru at the age of nine. In the beginning it was difficult to adjust to the new language and culture. My first memorable teacher was my mother who taught me English with the help of ‘Humpty Dumpty Learning Cards’. During high school, I realized my favorite classes were those with teachers who encouraged my personal development, made learning fun and who were passionate about their subject. I came to love my mathematics, geography, chemistry and art classes just because of those teachers. It was during my undergraduate years that I found my passion for microbiology and I realized that I wanted to share this subject by teaching it to others. For me, the greatest gift you can give to yourself is a good education, whether through an institution or self-learning. The more I learn, the more I realize that I have so much more to learn. I hope to show my students that learning can be fun, inspirational and rewarding.
I believe teaching is not just about presenting a subject, it’s about making the subject relevant to the student, planting the desire to know more and showing the students that they are capable of reaching for their dreams with hard work and perseverance. My objectives as a teacher are to make students realize that learning is a means to making the most out of their situation; to becoming informed citizens and to eventually teach others what they have learnt out of their life.
My Teaching Strategy:
My teaching strategy is very fluid and based on my students. I believe everyone has the capacity to learn, they just need to be given the opportunity based on their abilities. Although it is sometimes necessary to present short lectures, I’ve always found interactive activities to be a fun way to learn, whether through group discussions/exercises, laboratory practicals or puzzles and quizzes. By adopting different teaching methods I would hope to cover the various learning styles necessary to incorporate activities that a diverse group of students can learn from. My goals in teaching a course would be to familiarize the students to a discipline as well as promote critical thinking, cultivate problem-solving strategies and encourage the acquisition of life-long learning skills. I expect my students to be challenged, work hard, and produce the best caliber work they can.
To assess the effectiveness of knowledge transfer of the course content to the students, I plan to assign weekly multiple-choice questions, group and individual assignments as well as pop-quizzes at the start of every class. I will provide written comments based on their performance and will make myself available for further consultations to help students improve on their performance. I also plan to ask students for feedback and comments on the course at weeks 4, 8 and 12 (within a semester) to determine the suitability of the course design for a given classroom community.
As an Assistant Professor I teach undergraduate research students to familiarize themselves with the basic laboratory skills and fundamental concepts in the field of research we are interested in studying. Once they begin to gain confidence through their mandatory training they are given individual or team projects to undertake – based on their current skill set. My goal for these students is to promote independence through learner-centered teaching, guide them through the scientific literature to acquire relevant knowledge and prompt them to ask questions (such as ‘why’ and ‘how’) instead of assuming that everything they read is correct. I would also hope to bring out creative and original thought as well as improving their academic and analytical skills to develop a capacity to apply information to address complex or abstract matters. Fundamentally, in the field of research we learn to become our own teachers.
Striving to be a Better Teacher:
I believe a good teacher should also constantly strive to become a better teacher. I think ‘reflective learning’ is an integral part of self-improvement and I’m always aspiring to be the best I can be. Peer reviews and student feedback would be two of the main sources for evolving my teaching techniques. Attending workshops and seminars design to promote the latest teaching methods are also approaches that I like to embark on.
My training is in the field of Biomedical Sciences with a good understanding of biotechnology, immunology, molecular biology, pharmacology and laboratory investigation of diseases, with a Ph.D. in microbiology. I have had previous teaching experience in fundamental microbiology for entry-level undergraduates, as well as food microbiology to Master-level graduates. The traditional approach for teaching science subjects has been to lecture the course content and test for memorization of facts; however, I believe that these types of courses can be ‘flipped’. By flipping the course, students would be asked to read the information at home, thereby allowing the time in the classroom to discuss and conduct activities that would promote critical thinking, development of problem-solving skills and application of the information to ‘real world’ problems.
Although the ‘learner-centered teaching’ approach can be very demanding for both the students and teacher, I believe it is a good model to develop the next generation of scientists and health-care professionals as it helps promote understanding rather than rote learning of a subject. With that said, there is no substitution for motivating the students and making learning interesting other than being a good teacher and being open to learning from the students. I also believe that it is essential to have good course material, have a well-prepared course design and lesson plan, but also be flexible to allow for adaption of the course to tailor to the need of the classroom community.
Principles of Research Design
Students review major steps of a research project, including how to: identify research topics, evaluate the literature, construct and test a working hypothesis, analyze and interpret data, and report results. Basic research terminology and formats of research designs will are discussed.