This semester finally almost comes to the end. The GEDI course has brought me different perspectives on teaching. In this post, I just want to do a few reflection on the article by Dr. Palmer…..

First of all, I like the analogy that teaching is just like cooking. For example, adding a little spices may change the taste of the dishes. If you add too many sugars or salts, people may enjoy it at the moment, but it would not be good for their health in the long term. Different people have different tastes. How to cook a dish that can satisfy everyone’s taste buds?…. There are so so many things we need to learn to become a good cook or say a good teacher?! I would say the best cooker is the one who doesn’t need recipes; instead, who can use his/her intuition or experience to make delicious food! However, I believe that in order to get to that level, more than 10 years experience is necessary!!!

Next, it’s very interesting to recognize the differences between the Western and Asian “FOOD”. In my opinion, the teaching styles in the West is definitely more creative and more interaction between teachers and students. Besides performance, the Western teachers seem to more care about students’ emotion. The courses’ contents are encouraged to include more projects and case studies, instead of exams. In the East, I remember tons of exams were torturing me every semester, and I was the top student in class, but I had no idea which subject really interested me. However, I like the fact that the traditional learning environment can provide students with more systematic and logical way to learn new knowledge. I think this plays an important role when we were establishing the basic foundation and developing our studying strategies.


At this moment, the only thing I really want to do is to find an opportunity to teach and apply those methods I have learned from this class!!!

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Thoughts on Diversity

Diversity seems to be a very very very  SERIOUS issue in US. As an international student and a minority in this country, sometimes I feel I don’t quite understand the key points of this issue due to the lack of knowledge in American history. Also, I’m lucky that I’ve had very good experience with people from different cultures so far! Therefore, when it comes to the question of students wearing a shirt with a confederate flag, I may not even notice what’s the problem with it….

Last week I attended a diversity seminar that discussed about “micro-aggression”. I’ve learned about this topic from the PFP class last semester. So, my attention was not on the presentation. Instead, I was observing the reaction of the audience. Since this is a seminar required by the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, there were probably half of students who are American sitting at the center and front of the classroom, and the other half are international students who are from middle east countries and Asia, sitting at the back side of the classroom. When the speaker asked us to have a small group discussion with our neighbors, unfortunately, there were not so much interaction between the international students and the American students. In my opinion, to achieve the purpose of this seminar, diverse students should be in the same group and listening to the opinions from each other. Furthermore, I understand the importance of the topic of micro-aggression but if it is overemphasized, it will sabotage students’ curiosity on different cultures. I even started to think that this might be one of the reasons why American students seem to have no interest in other cultures although they are living in the big melting pot!

I believe that teaching students how to respect each other starts from understanding each other’s cultures. We need to recognize the differences of individuals, instead of ignoring it or trying to treat everyone “equally”.  Prejudice is inevitable at the first place. But as long as we show our curiosity and good intention to ask others’ about their cultures, and being open-minded to listen others’ opinions and learn from each other, I believe students can benefit from the conversation and broaden their horizons.

In my classroom, I would like to provide examples of technology from different countries. For example, I’m living in Taiwan where lots of earthquakes occurs each year and cause a series of engineering problems such as landslides while here in the US students have no such experiences and might not notice the importance of the related technology and research. Similarly, lots of stories can bring to the class by students from different countries or who have lived in other countries. I believe this type of discussion can help students develop their global perspective in engineering and will stimulate their curiosity in other cultures. I also would like to create a group project. Each group will be focusing on one engineering problem from a specific country, and they will need to present and share their works with all students.


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When my students leave the classroom, I wish they can …

Two weeks ago I borrowed this book from my advisor. This book is pretty old, but still gives a lots of useful advise from how to design a course to how to do a lecture. My advisor knows now I’m getting started to write my teaching philosophy. As a result, he told me we have to spend some time in our every meeting to discuss about teaching. Ahhhh~~ so nice of him……

Anyway!! Let me get back to the topic of this week!

Instead of thinking about what kind of teacher I want to be, I would like to first think about what kind of people I wish my students can be after they graduate. Because the primary goal is to prepare them for  their future career, I list a few characteristics and skills that I aim to helping them to develop in my courses:

curiosity, critical thinking, creativity, solid background, self-learning ability, confidence, a sense of achievement, perseverance, carefulness, patience.

Among all of them, the most important one is to help them enjoy a sense of achievement during their learning process!!! I believe this is the key to other things because a sense of achievement will give them confidence to discover new knowledge, exhibit their curiosity, use their imagination, create and present their own opinions in front of others. In other words, learning should be fun for my students! The second two important things are to provide them solid background and to help them further develop perseverance, carefulness, patience, and more importantly self-learning ability! I don’t expect that all knowledge they learn in class are useful  for their future career, or they can still remember when they really need to use it. What learning in college most benefits them is let them know how to deal with  a problem, how to make a right decision, where to find the resources, how to overcome difficulties and frustration, how to do work under pressure, how to express their own opinion but also respect comments from others and etc.

In summary, I think the learning process is actually more important than the knowledge delivered in class. College is highly likely to be their last education in their lives. During these four years, we need to teach them to become their own teachers so that they can learn new things on their own when it’s needed.

But… How to make my students have the above mentioned skills and characteristics?

Oh well… I still haven’t figured it out yet… :p

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Embrace Change!

Confused GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY


Last week in class we were discussing that nowadays because everything you can learn from the internet, the traditional class-room type of lecture should be gradually evolving to be in  “discussion” style, rather than giving them information/knowledge that they can simply find online.  In my opinion, teachers are storytellers, who can combine the existing knowledge and correct information to become stories that are interesting to students.  In the past when most of knowledge have to be found in books and publications, these information have been through serious reviewing process and constantly corrected by authors or publishers. In comparison, students can learn almost everything on the internet so easily through Wikipedia, YouTube, Blogs and etc. However, it is necessary for students to be able to evaluate whether those information are correct, and this ability should be cultivated during their college education, so that they will easily become a life-time self-learner. As a result, just like Thomas and Brown’s book said in their book,

“Wikipedia allows us to see all those things, understand
the process, and participate in it. As such, it requires a new kind
of reading practice, an ability to evaluate a contested piece of
knowledge and decide for yourself how you want to interpret
it. And because Wikipedia is a living, changing embodiment of
knowledge, such a reading practice must embrace change.”

On the other hand, how to become a good storyteller in lectures? How to create meaningful  and interesting discussion in class but still can make sure to have enough time to  give them a well-structured knowledge? These are the issues that I need to think about and overcome.

Reference: Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown, A New Culture of Learning (2011), pp. 17-38 (“Arc of Life Learning” and “A Tale of Two Cultures”)



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Lecture is not just information transfer!

(This pic is unrelated to the story below!! Just want to share that there is a sunflower festival in Beaver Dam farm. I just went there last weekend. It was soooo beautiful :D. The sunflower is huge!! I brought my selfie stick and took so many beautiful selfie there!)

At the first week of this semester, I was lucky to have an opportunity to give two guest lectures on Intro Fluid Mechanics.  Last week I’ve asked a few students for their feedback as this is the 4th time in my life to teach.  Surprisingly, they said it was good and easily understood though a couple of students hoped I could go through the examples slower. Their positive feedback really give  me tons of confidence and encouragement to become a teacher in the future. When I was preparing my lecture, I tried to recall how I learned the similar material as I was in college.  However, I know that this might not be sufficient, because my audience are American rather than Taiwanese….

Remember the first TED talk we watched in class, the professor mentioned that he noticed students aimed to getting by the course instead of learning new knowledge. I think this phenomena is much more serious in my country; that is, most of Taiwanese students aim to excelling at exams due to intense peer pressure. I know it because I was one of them. For example, when doing a homework problem, I was pretty good at obtaining the solution. But I wouldn’t spend time on thinking about its physical meaning which is actually more important than the solution itself. On the other hand, from my 3-yrs experience as a TA at Tech, I noticed that American students tend to ask “Why?!” even though they already got the answer. Therefore, I keep in mind that in a lecture I should help students to understand and relate the physics they learn  to their daily lives or whatever they have known. I think if not doing that, the lecture will become “information transfer” as described in the reference.



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Networked Learning for Teaching/Advising Students?

Reading: Gardner Campbell, “Networked Learning as Experiential Learning” (2016)

Networked learning has various avenues for researchers. For example, the Research Gate allows us to create a project and post our publication online. People who are interested in our projects can follow us and ask questions through this social media. As compared to the past when people need to attend conferences to obtain the latest knowledge and exchange ideas, our social networks nowadays has significantly accelerated the diffusion of knowledge. An idea that came to my mind is that I may ask my students who are doing research with me to constantly post their latest results on the web like facebook newsfeed, so that they can receive feedback right away. Also, as an advisor, I will know they are working :p. But to be honest, in my area where there are tons of math, it’s pretty difficult to post sth unless the results are plotted. Oh well… I will try to figure a way to do it..

On the other hand, I think networked learning cannot replace traditional classroom type of study, at least in the area of engineering. Though online courses websites such as MOOC and Coursera make knowledge easily accessible to everyone, interacting with teachers is still very important for students who has no self-learning ability, at least including freshman and sophomore students in my opinion.  Nevertheless, networked learning systems like Canvas used at VT is a very good learning assistance for students. They can start a discussion with their classmates and teachers. They can easily form a study group to exchange ideas and learn from each other. But it seems to me that only a few instructors at VT really use those website functions to assist their lecture.


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Behind My Essay: Creativity Cultivation in the Western and Eastern Societies

Finally finished my essay!!! woohoooo~~~

In this post, I want to share some more thoughts regarding to the my essay topic: Creativity Cultivation in the Western and Eastern Societies.  My main references are one book [1] and one paper [2].  If you are interested in more details about the differences between the West and the East, I highly recommend these two articles! And here, the East  primarily means for people in Mainland China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan and Singapore; the West primarily means people in the United States.

Thanks to my American advisor who gives me this idea to write an essay about creativity cultivation in the West and the East.  The universities in the US emphasize diversity way much more than those in my country, such that I did not really know that how one person’s cultural value affects its learning and research.

When I was grading my students’ assignment, I noticed that it is more efficient to grade it from one country to one country. It seems like students from the same country tend to have similar logical thinking. (The assignment I graded is graduate fluid mechanics.) Based on my observation, Iranian students’ derivation tends to be longest and more complicated; Chinese students’ derivation seems to be more concise and much similar to the classnotes or the solution that my TA advisor gave me; American students’ derivation usually are very intuitive and creative.  I have asked my Iranian friend’s opinion about this. He told me because in Iran, the exam is usually very hard and the grading is also very harsh. So, students will always try to solve the problems in many different, and write everything done so that they may get more points. On the other hand, for Chinese students, I can understand better. Our rote learning trains us to become an exam machine. If the professor teach us one way to solve the problem, we will use that method and rarely think of other ways.  As for American, they tend to be more creative but sometimes need more logical thinking. Therefore, I think due to the cultural difference, students from different countries have different needs when leaning new knowledge. As a professor or an advisor, he/she has to have better understanding of each cultural and adjust their teaching method, especially at graduate school where many students are from all over the world.



  1. Lau, S., Hui, A. H., & Ng, G. C.,2004. Creativity: When East Meets West. River Edge, NJ: World Scientific.
  2. Kim, K. H., 2005. Learning from each other: Creativity in East Asian and American education. Creativity Research Journal, 17(4), 337–347.
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The Mom Penalty

Here are a few thoughts after reading the above article….

First, I’m so happy I’m not the only woman who are worried about how to balance my career and family in the future. When we finally obtain our PhD degree, it’s usually about time to get married and have kids. However, with intensive stress to become a tenured faculty in universities, we often are not allowed to spend enough time with our family. Current universities’ policy for maternity leave allows female faculty to “stop the clock”. But according to the reference, their salary will slightly lower after they come back to work. The main reason is that it assumes their performance will become worse due to family issue. Although male faculties can also take paternity leave, the statistics show that the number of male faculties who take paternity leave is still way much less than the female faculties who take maternity leave. Therefore, it seems like that the gender inequality will always exist as long as these two numbers have significant difference.

In fact, I think for most of men, how to balance their career and family night also be an issue. Sometimes the society may be too focus on feminism and forget about the fact that those male faculties who are doing well in academia actually also sacrifice a lot of family time for their job. In other words, there should be another term – “The Daddy Penalty”. Considering from traditional perspective, going hunting is the responsibility for men while taking care of kids is the duty for women. Oh well….. I suddenly feel that the world hasn’t been changed much …..

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Future of the University

One thing that I think future of the university should improve is to increase the standard for tenured-track positions, and  provide more non-tenured-track positions.

I understand that current standards based on their research (including quantity and quality of the publication), teaching and services have already been very hard. However, these factors might not be easy to show if a researcher has ability to be a good advisor or even a mentor.

Over the graduate school years, lots of people who will become professors in universities have never taken any courses on how to become a good advisor, to mentor a student and more importantly, to acknowledge the fact that the responsibility of a professor is more than doing research. All aspects in higher education that we have discussed through this course such as ethic and professional behavior for an advisor are significant. Additionally, as most graduate students come from all over the world, an advisor should understand that students might have different needs due to their traditional cultures or specific background. Though universities seem to emphasize the importance of diversity and inclusion, there seem to be no penalty if a tenured-track faculty avoid doing it! I have heard from other friends that their advisors have a lot of funding but don’t encourage and support them to attend conferences. Authorship is also an issue. In order to seek for promotion, they might put themselves as the first author even though most contribution were made by their students.

One of the related article I found very interesting… “My professor demands to be listed as an author on many of my papers Integrity is everything in scientific publishing – except when it comes to claiming authorship of papers, says this researcher. Dodgy practices are put under the spotlight here, along with the power imbalance that traps young academics. “He could refuse to assign any master’s students to my projects, or to nominate me for prizes, and he could be less likely to ask me to collaborate with him; unfortunately, these things are essential”.




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Open Access – Royal Society Open Science

This post is about OPEN ACCESS! Interestingly, my advisors were discussing about it during our meeting last week. Google  helped me find the list of open access journal in Wikipedia:

In engineering, one of the open access journal is Royal Society Open Science.

Aims and Scope

Royal Society Open Science is a new open journal publishing high-quality original research across the entire range of science on the basis of objective peer-review.

The journal covers the entire range of science and mathematics and allows the Society to publish all the high-quality work it receives without the usual restrictions on scope, length or impact.

The journal has a number of distinguishing features:

  • objective peer-review (publishing all articles which are scientifically sound and useful to the community)
  • it offers open peer-review as an option
  • articles embody open data principles
  • each article has a suite of article level metrics and we encourage post-publication comments
  • the Editorial team consists entirely of practising scientists and draws upon the expertise of the Royal Society’s Fellowship
  • in addition to direct submissions, it accepts for consideration articles referred from other Royal Society journals

Royal Society Open Science welcomes the submission of all high-quality science including articles which may usually be difficult to publish elsewhere, for example, those that include negative findings. The journal covers life sciences, physical sciences, mathematics, engineering and computer science.

It seems like more biological papers were published in this journal. You can only find a few papers related to aerospace, and mechanical engineering.

Here, let’s look at their article types:

Royal Society Open Science publishes the following article types: research article, registered report,invited review, invited perspective and comment and invited reply.

Invited review: The journal will only consider submitted invited reviews for publication. The journal welcomes unsolicited review proposals, but all proposals must first be agreed by the relevant Subject Editor. Proposals for reviews should be no longer than 1 side of A4, include a structural outline with sub-headings to briefly explain description of content, and must succinctly identify the core issue(s) to be addressed. Please note that reviews transferred from other Royal Society Publishing journals will not automatically be considered for publication; instead, before the review will be considered for publication in Royal Society Open Science, a proposal must be submitted for consideration and approved by the relevant Subject Editor, only then will a review be invited from the proposing author(s). Please contact the Editorial Office with details of your proposal.

Invited Perspective:Upon election to the Royal Society, Fellows and Foreign Members are invited to contribute a Perspective article. Perspectives take the form of a review that provides the reader with an overview of the subject and give a personal insight into the advances and challenges the future may hold. Perspectives can be selective in their coverage rather than an in-depth review of an area.

Registered Report:A Registered Report (RR) is a form of journal article in which methods and proposed analyses are pre-registered and peer-reviewed prior to research being conducted (stage 1). High quality protocols are then provisionally accepted for publication before data collection commences. The format is open to attempts of replication as well as novel studies. Once the study is completed, the author will finish the article including results and discussion sections (stage 2). This will be appraised by the reviewers, and provided necessary conditions are met, will be published. Full details can be found here.

Comment and invited reply: Royal Society Open Science publishes short comments on articles previously published in the journal. Comments bring attention to an oversight in a Royal Society Open Science article or propose an opposing view. They are often a critique, providing corrections or offering new analyses. Comments will be published at the discretion of the Editor. However, if factual errors are identified that affect the accuracy of the published record, a correction may be published instead. Comments are self-proposed by any reader shortly after the initial article is published (ideally within 6 months of publication). Comments and replies should be less than 4 pages and should remain concise. The comment is peer-reviewed by the corresponding author of the original article, a referee from the original article, and another impartial referee. If the comment is accepted, the authors of the original article will be invited to submit a reply, which will also be peer reviewed by the two impartial referees who assessed the comment. We will not consider unsolicited, standalone comments. Please contact the editorial office prior to submission with any queries.

Last but not least, it’s interesting to know that this journal requires the authors to provide supporting data and information, including source code, to be made available at the time of submission of the manuscript to ensure that referees have access to the data.

In my opinion, it may be difficult to really share the source codes to the public if we are doing theoretical or numerical analysis. Once they are open to the public, how can we publish the next paper using the code?! Oh well…to be honest, I know that sounds probably pretty selfish and impede the progression of the science though.  However, I don’t mind sharing the experimental data to the public. As it’s very difficult and expensive to build an experiment and produce reasonable data. These data can help computationalists and theoreticalists improve their models and explain the physics.

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