Teaching philosophy

I have been blessed with a plethora of opportunities to study in three different countries, including the United Kingdom, Estonia, and Canada. I obtained a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering (one-year Chemistry option) from the University of Benin, Nigeria. In my career, I had the privilege to have bagged two master’s degrees: Petroleum Engineering from Imperial College, London, and Materials for Sustainable Energy from Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia. I also have a strong interest in teaching. More importantly, I see teaching as a device to connect with people, express myself and help my students become a better version of themselves.

I developed an interest in teaching when I attended one of my father’s workshops. His energetic teaching approach and his ability to juxtapose classroom methodology with real-life situations are fascinating. My father was a mathematics teacher in a community high school in Lagos, Nigeria.

I first began teaching during my third year as a Chemical Engineering undergraduate student at the University of Benin. I organized and delivered several tutorials related to using computer software, including MATLAB, Excel, and Aspen Hysys, to solve Chemical Engineering problems voluntarily. Upon graduation, I accepted a position as a Laboratory Manager at Michael Okpara University, Nigeria. I was assigned different varieties of teaching and curriculum development opportunities. I taught Engineering Mechanics (Statics and Dynamics) and Heat and Mass Transfer courses to first- and fourth-year undergraduate students. In addition to the teaching duties, I was part of the team that modified the existing first-year curriculum for the Chemical Engineering departmental program accreditation. My role was to gather information from several oil and gas companies in Nigeria on what should be done to make our graduates employable.

At the University of Saskatchewan, I have held several teaching positions. I was a Laboratory Instructor and Teaching Assistant (TA) for GE 111 (Engineering Problem Solving for first-year students). I facilitated laboratory sessions and taught first-year students how to use Microsoft Excel and MATLAB to solve engineering problems. In addition, I also held a TA position for GPS 960 (Introduction to Ethics and Integrity) and CHE 333 (Chemical Engineering Laboratory). My experience with GPS 960 made me understand different ethical challenges faced by students during their program and how to avoid them. [i]

I have been designing and teaching an online course on “Computer-Aided Chemical Engineering” outside the face-to-face classroom for the past few years. The course will be published as an open-source lecture during the winter 2022 term. I am looking forward to further developing my teaching skills as I pursue an academic career.

Teaching Philosophy

I love everything related to teaching. I enjoy preparing lecture materials, discussing with students and, more importantly, helping students navigate through complex challenges while providing constructive feedback. I believe that every student is different and that their learning pace differs. I make a substantial effort to understand the strength and weaknesses of all my students regardless of the class size. Therefore, I design learning activities that simplify major learning concepts for easy understanding. To do this, in my first class, I would ask every student to introduce themselves. In one instance, I find that this approach helps me identify each member of the course and establish a strong connection. That way, it is easier to comprehensively observe their strengths and weaknesses and design learning concepts based on their strengths.

I believe that learning is an experiential and continuous process that requires passion and dedication. At every stage of my career and experience as a graduate student, workshop facilitator, teaching assistant, lecturer, and peer mentor, I had the opportunity to reflect and think deeply on my approach to research, learning, and teaching. My teaching approach and class model have evolved over the years based on personal reflections and feedback. My current teaching philosophy has developed based on my personal experience as a TA, curriculum developer, and instructor. The following principles guide my teaching practice:

1. Listen to your students more than they listen to you (Engagement): I pay close attention to my student’s needs. I pause intermittently during classes to ask questions and ensure that they are comprehending what is being taught. I derive joy from facilitating large or small group discussions during which students share their opinions or knowledge. I work very hard to ensure that every student contributes during group discussions and in-class, regardless of their background.

2. Start every class with something that reminds the student of the last lesson: A second principle that guides my teaching is always to remind the students of the previous class contents. I work very hard to prepare questions based on our previous discussions. I found this approach motivates the student to study outside the classroom. It also helps them to stay motivated throughout the term. The pre-class questions also keep them actively involved in-class activities.

3. Feedback and personal reflection should be taken seriously: Thirdly, I am an advocate of personal and professional development through constructive feedback and personal reflections. I dedicate time and effort to review all student feedback closely. During the midterm week and at the end of the course, I solicit informal feedback. I spend a significant amount of time reading all the feedback. More importantly, I pay close attention to those that require personal improvement. I try to develop and improve myself based on the feedback.

4. Technology can Enhance Teaching: Finally, I believe technology has a significant role in improving the quality of teaching and learning. I have always integrated technology into my teaching and workshops. For example, in teaching Mechanics, I used Kahoot[1] to design pre-assessment questions. I observed that students would be in class 10 minutes earlier just to participate in the pre-assessment questions.

I have constantly applied all these principles to my teaching and have been greeted with positive responses from students.