Teaching Interest and Philosophy Statements

What is 3 + 4:
What is 3 + 4:

Teaching Interest and Philosophy Statements
Olayinka Okeola, PhD

My teaching philosophy is student-centered which ensures students participation in class through dynamic approach in both teaching illustrations and engaging attitudes with emphasis on encouragement. Effort is made to attract and sustain interest and attention by bringing high personal energy to the class which engenders more interest and enthusiasm.  I listen to my students and encourage questions.  I have a sound and functional didactic skill in the classroom grounded on the principle of appreciation and accommodation of students’ individuality differences in intelligence and temperament.

Teaching and mentoring are important components of academic career and the ability to impact young minds is both physically and emotionally demanding, but patience, in my opinion is a sine qua non for a good teacher. To enhance student experience and learning, my teaching approach is to combine the Lecturer as a facilitator, with blended learning, think-share-pair, brainstorming and engaging the class, as well as connecting the classroom with the real world.  Assignments are designed to engender responsibility that demand critical learning from the students. That is the contribution that shows efforts, thoughts and ingenuity. In the classroom, I follow Sylvia Marshall’s motto i.e. “To mean well and make mistakes is better than to mean badly and do it successfully”.

However, complex problem of the nexus of cities, water, and energy that will support the sustainable urban infrastructure of next decades, also call for a student-focused learning with emphasis early enough on undergraduate education that provides technical excellence along with emphasis on real world applications. While it is good to maintain the traditional student-centered curriculum and direct teaching approach for undergraduates, it is imperative today more than ever before as a faculty member to encourage undergraduate students in research and scholarstic activities that complement the coursework and aim at grooming for graduate study or the Industry.

A strong civil engineering program should include identifying with the practice in the global and national level. Civil engineering is broad in specializations and as such independent case studies can be designed from coursework. For example, Infrastructure is a topical issues that can be explored hugely. The essential elements or activities in this respect include, and not limited to:

1.   Case Study
Employing term paper and posters to explore case studies on the country topical issues and possibly present before the class.
2.   Global Events
Annually mark special global event days (e.g. World Water Day) with public lecture such as issues on water body and environmental concerns.
3.   Research Support
Students can participate in research work aspect of data collection, analysis, and field work support.
4.   Undergraduate Research Conference
It can be made mandatory for final year students to participate in conference either in-house within the department, national and international organized where their work are presented.
5.   Professional Membership
Exposing students early in their career to general and specialization-specific professional membership of (i) American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), (ii) International Water Association and (iii) Engineers Without Border. Thereafter start participation in organized competition among the local and international Universities.
6.    Project Exhibition
This can be in the form of projects and awareness campaign for the college community;  such as minor repair, storm harvesting study, erosion control among others as reality presented on ground.
7.    Industrial Visit
To engender enhanced interest and passion, regular visit to (i) road, building or bridge construction (ii) water treatment facility, (iii) wastewater treatment facility among other be organized.

Personal Improvement
Information technology has revolutionized teaching and learning. Both teaching and learning are dynamic. The need for training and retraining to meet up with this dynamism is ever imperative. Apart from reading relevant books, I have undergone two training sessios: (1) University Teaching and (2) Learning how to learn. The University teaching training was from the center for enhancement of teaching learning at The University of Hong Kong. The course’ six modules are very enriching and motivating; consist (i) teaching and learning context, (ii) Effective teaching (iii) Instructional design, (iv) Effective assessment, (v) Instructional examples (vi) Constructive feedbacks. I graciously acknowledge courseral.org that generously facilitated this training. It is also in my agenda to explore commercial internet teaching management facilities in the future. Examples include Voice thread, Google tutor, Response ware and Turnitin.

Unseen Labor of Mentoring
By my third year in the faculty I have observed many flaws in students’ academic attitude that I could not ignore anymore. They include social networking indulgence, assignments copying and lack of interest in university academics programmes (endowed, convocation and inaugural lectures); reading culture; basic academic skills; and visionary hustling. I embarked on continuing sensitization and enlightenment lectures targeting the aforesaid to stem the tide at individual’s student, group, departmental and faculty levels. Some are available on my homepage under mentoring section (olayinkaokeola.com). However students’ financial and emotional health crises are more challenging. I know the two myself. Therefore, I handle them by providing psychological breathing space through sharing of my personal stories including others as relevance so that they can contextualize these with theirs and realize that they are not alone.

I have identified at least four students at different period in serious emotional trouble. My involvement led to getting medical attention and suspension of an academic session after diagnosed as being paranoid schizophrenia. As I said earlier, mentoring is huge emotional labour and in our case can be traumatizing and draining because the system cannot be absolved from the students’ experiences in school. Without a good government, it is almost impossible to have other rights’; such as right to sound health and education, socio-economic safety net and even be inspired by good leadership. Excessive advising become my personality makeup at individual level. Navigating the narrow route of being supportive and an onlooker is always a moral burdens to balance. However, I will surely continue with concerted efforts to rejuvenate, empower and spirit-up troubling students that enter my office or which I discover. These are worthy endeavors and part of the ethos of giviving back to my beloved country, Nigeria.

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Teaching Interest & Philosophy Statement | Research Statement & Undergraduate Involvement | Curriculum Vitae | Student Remarks