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Teaching Philosophy

My first full responsibility to teach a college course was assumed when I was a second year graduate student in 1978. I started this task being guided by my natural and simple instinct, which was: working hard to serve my students’ educational needs, being truthful and sincere, extending respect to their differences, encouraging them to face the challenges, and be available for their help and support. I was enthusiastically received by all, but especially by those students who had passion for learning, where the oldest of whom was only two years younger than me. I quickly became the young teacher whom they believed in, respected, and trusted. As a result, they appreciated and loved the material they have been taught, not only for the purpose of doing well in class, but also to see beyond that immediate appeal. I was happy to see that even the marginal student started to perform better and began to plan for the future. That remarkable experience was to set the tone for my relationship with students and to establish my philosophy of teaching for the next three decades!

I have always looked at teaching as a learning process whose objective is not only learning for students but also learning for the teacher; and whose domain is not only the subject matter but also life experience. I have often felt that the ultimate purpose of education should not be a mere accumulation of knowledge. Rather, knowledge has to be applied in problem solving to reap the fruits of education. Such a long term and high commitment process requires hard work and persistence, search and discovery, patience and resilience, and trial and error. One of my favorite pedagogical approaches is problem solving, which is not typically a list of solutions to selected and generic problems. In contrast, it is a methodology to create specific and genuine solutions to any problem, and to learn how to devise ways and draw strategies to make efficient choices. Therefore, as a teacher, I see my job as to teach students how to think instead of what to think, how to process and digest as opposed to memorize, store, and display information, to learn how to instantly search for and find information on any specific subject and for any purpose and time, as opposed to utilizing a stocked inventory of instructions. Moreover, I believe college education should offer students an opportunity to acquire additional and external values to enhance their productive contributions to society, as well as offering an opportunity to grow and mature in an atmosphere that would broaden their mind and heighten their sensibilities. Higher education, I believe, is an investment in the most precious elements of society’s stock of productive assets. It has been well said that although education is expensive for a society, it would be much less costly than ignorance. Educators, therefore, have the privilege of designing and guiding that investment for its highest possible rate of return.

In relation to my training, my major academic goal in teaching has been to help students understand the economic theory and financial analysis and their applications in the behavior of consumers, families, and small business. Other goals include preparing students to be ready, well rounded, and successful professionals who not only can form their own philosophies on the world around them but also work, create, invent, and lead. To this end, I see myself as a conscientious and dedicated teacher who, without a compromise, puts his students’ success and their moral goodness at the forefront. I believe that a teacher is not merely a pedagogical source. He/she should inherently be a mentor for students, one, whom they can relate to and look up to, and for that, I take a lot of pride in the high scores given to me by students as evidenced by their formal and informal evaluations over time. Throughout the years and in all courses taught, my students have appreciated my enthusiasm, class preparation, and fairness but my highest scores have consistently been in the section, “Instructor welcomes participation, available for students and worth associating with”.

Experimenting with several teaching strategies, I discovered that the most effective means of achieving my teaching objectives is to promote skill development through active learning as opposed to passive transformation of information. With the relative dryness of my subject matter, I consistently tried to boost students’ motivation and sustain their involvement as a crucial vehicle to achieve active learning. The most intriguing adjustment I made has been the high emphasis on higher order thinking and problem solving which worked well with my subject matter. To facilitate my plans and achieve my goals in effective teaching, I have been persistent in obtaining multiple teaching grants to fund some of my educational projects and activities. I also attended several local and national conferences and workshops on teaching, which, without a doubt, helped me, revamp my methods and revise my curriculum contents. To promote professionalism and leadership, and to introduce students to the labor market, I sought and won the Sam M. Walton Free Enterprise fellowship. As a result, I formed and advised one of the first SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) teams in the Northeast. It was a great chance for the best and brightest students to work on projects, compete in national contests, and interact with prospective employers.

To sum it all up, my general philosophy guides my major focus of teaching as to build a strong theoretical knowledge and enhance the students’ abilities to apply their theoretical skills in making the best-educated choices in their professional and personal lives, including the choices of a career or a graduate study. For each and every one of the many courses I taught, I tried to formulate unique contents in order to attract a new generation of students to the department. The major thrust of these contents has been the differentiation with other close disciplines in campus and elsewhere nearby. Emphasis has been given to the interaction between the quantitative and qualitative approaches toward maximizing the students’ cognitive and professional development. Computer literacy, professional writing, oral presentation skills, and constructive discussion seminars are standard requirements along with the indispensable quizzes, assignments, and exams.

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