Teaching Philosophy and Goals

I fortunately have been a beneficiary of good teaching practices of professors and mentors at school. This has led me to devote myself to an academic career where I want to help young intellects to develop a passion in lifelong learning and to teach them essential tools for scientific communications.

Since I started the doctoral program in environmental policy, I have been actively taking efforts to enhance my pedagogical trainings. I enrolled in the Certificate in College Teaching program, participated the Teaching Triangles, and completed two courses – GS750 “Fundamentals of College Teaching” and GS762 “Online College Teaching”. Along with the experience as teaching assistants of several courses and teaching fellow funded by the Bass Teaching Fellowship, I have always taken the opportunity to practice these pedagogical approaches. There are two fundamentals I embrace in teaching: learning objectives and learning experience.

In my practice as teaching assistants, I repeatedly got students expressing their anxieties in office hours, with the key question “How can I do well in this course?”. More specifically the questions were about what is going to be tested in exams, instead of what the course wants me to learn. These questions and anxieties arise when learning objectives are not well-defined in the syllabus. Hence, a solution to this issue is to list concrete learning objectives and closely link them to the course materials and evaluation tools. As a teaching fellow in 2019 spring, I taught a module on program evaluation methods. One of the key learning objectives I had when designing the module is to prepare students to be critical consumers of knowledge, which is to understand selection bias and to be cautious not making causal assertions based on correlations. This has become increasingly important in a world where people can be overwhelmed by news from various sources yet still find it hard to get unbiased information. Since well-informed citizens are the foundation for public decision making, I believe this teaching goal facilitates long-term social welfare. To achieve this teaching goal, I lectured on causal inference and quasi-experiments with policy implications. The lecturing was then followed by a problem set requiring students to apply the causal inference methods learned (e.g. difference-in-difference) in R software programing.

In terms of learning experience, I believe it can be enhanced by incorporating active learning strategies and digital toolkits in course design. For the course Economics of the Public Sector, I was able to take a co-instructor role in course development and lecturing. We implemented two types of digital education tools: interactive in-class surveys/quizzes via PollEverywhere and lecture recordings posted on Panopto. The interactive polls facilitated class discussions in a more informative way, giving students spontaneous responses from the instructor and their peers. Viewing the recorded teaching videos, I found it helpful to adjust my presence and slides to better incorporate with the audio and visual technologies of the room, which might have unobvious impact on in-class participation but could improve the digital learning experience significantly. In 2020 spring quarantine period, I taught a cost-benefit analysis module on Zoom. As a further training in digital pedagogy, I will be working with faculty and video producers at the Duke Learning Innovation to develop an online teaching project for Climate Change Economics during the 2020-21 academic year. This project includes designing a “bootcamp” visual module that reviews basic concepts and tools in climate science, economics, and statistics. This bootcamp aims at getting students with diverse backgrounds to quickly catch up with the progress of the course and to not feel left behind without help.

I plan to integrate these materials and principles in my future teaching. I will also continue to actively encourage student feedback on my teaching and to seek out additional pedagogical training resources for improvement.

Teaching experience

PUBPOL304/ECON 338 - Economics of the Public Sector: evaluations available [304.01] [304.02]
(2019 Spring: designed and lectured the externalities and causal inference module)
(2020 Spring: designed and lectured the cost-benefit analysis module)

PUBPOL303 - Microeconomics and Policy (2018 Spring: Teaching Assistant)

PUBPOL810 - Microeconomics and Public Policy Making (2016 Fall: Teaching Assistant)

Lecturing Program Evaluation: causal inference, February 2019.
Online lecturing the module of Cost-Benefit Analysis, March 2020.