Chan Kiat Hwa
Assistant Professor of Science (Chemistry)
What is special about teaching at the Yale-NUS?
Chan: Yale-NUS possess such a diverse range of teaching styles that I can always find one to suit the class I am teaching! My peers have been very generous in allowing me to attend some of their classes and I have learned many different techniques/styles as a result.
How would you describe your teaching style?
Chan: Thought-provoking and adaptive. I always strive to guide the students to synthesize their own understanding of a new system based on the fundamental principles – I am a strong believer that students should formulate their own analytical thinking style since that would be the style that works for them. Sometimes the students may not latch onto the leads that I had thought would guide them towards the answer, so I would have had to adjust my approach on the fly to help the students.
Can you recall a moment when you knew the class is going well?
Chan: When the class lighted up in smiles! I acknowledge I might put the students through the mill a little too often, but when they come through the process, which they invariably do, they will get excited about arriving at the answer themselves – that is when I know things are going ok.
What have been some of your best moments teaching at Yale-NUS?
Chan: Those have to be the times when I am able to help the students appreciate how basic physical science principles can be utilized to understand phenomena we encounter daily and some of the processes that society at large is dependent on.
What is your biggest challenge in regards to teaching?
Chan: My biggest challenge has got to be juggling the discussion level in class so that students with various foundational levels can engage each other fruitfully and learn together. Other challenges include minimizing the focus on grades and concentrating on learning instead, as well as making the connections between basic physical science principles to phenomena/matters that the students are familiar/concerned with.
What do you wish you knew about teaching when you started that you know now?
Chan: Teaching is really a continuous journey of self-improvement. One cannot realistically expect to teach a perfect class right from the start!