Teaching Excellence Awards

 Year Awarded: 2017

Faculty Award winner

Tian Tian

 College of Engineering and Computer Science

 Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

I believe the chief responsibility of schooling is to encourage students’ intellectual and personal development, rather than to certify or to pick the best and brightest. I understand learning is a developmental process rather than only a question of acquisition. As a teacher, my job is to help them learn better.

I understand that many of our engineering students are tactile learners who learn by doing, and believe students acquire a deeper knowledge through active exploration of real-world problems. I have been introducing various projects with an emphasis on hands-on work into courses. Over a period of two semesters, I incorporated a lab session to two senior level courses. In spite of the fact that each student merely spent one hour in the lab due to limited resources, the overwhelming majority of students gave positive feedback about the benefit of the lab experience. This motivates me to further devote to a dynamic learning environment within and beyond classroom. Having successfully obtained a larger funding, I have begun developing an engaging and complex semester-long project which will be fully launched in the spring semester of 2017. The semester-long project includes a significant lab component and there will be both analytical and hands-on tasks for student to investigate every week.

I hold to the belief that students can still have a highly effective learning experience in large classes. To enhance personal interaction, I arrive at my classroom early with plenty of time to try to greet them by name and speak with them. To promote student engagement, I raise intriguing questions instead of simply giving answers, to arouse curiosity and help them to learn to think critically, to reason with concepts and information, to examine the quality of their reasoning using a variety of intellectual standards, and to ask probing and insightful questions about the thinking of other people. To advance the quality of our delivery and help ease the burden created by a high demand for grading, I have been developing a digital learning platform and proposed a cross-over study on examining the effectiveness of digitized exams in one of my courses, which is currently under review by the Institutional Review Board.

As the future unfolds I stay committed to broadening my scope and effectiveness as an educator so I can help students continue to learn better. I believe I have the tools, attitude, and dedication to become an outstanding college engineering teacher.