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Prof. Zhou Yan: Teaching is Learning

  • 2018.2.27
摘要: 
Doctor Zhou Yan, iconic professor from SSE, CUHK-Shenzhen, shares with you what makes a good teacher in this interview.

Prof. Zhou Yan currently serves as Associate Professor in Physics at SSE, CUHK-Shenzhen. Dr. Zhou Yan obtained his bachelor degree from the University of Science and Technology of China, MPhil degree from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and PhD degree from Royal Institute of Technology (KTH, Sweden).

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In the 2016-2017 academic year, Professor Zhou was responsible for two courses: PHY1001 – Mechanics and PHY2001 – Electromagnetism. He applies creative methods and multimedia presentations to enrich the teaching of basic physics principles.

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Why Teaching?

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When asked why choose to teach, Professor Zhou Yan bluntly said: "I just love teaching." This career choice was greatly influenced by his family, as both of his parents are teachers. When Zhou was doing doctoral studies, he became passionate about research. Zhou said: "Compared to working in a company, teaching and research gives me more freedom to follow my interest in choosing the research direction.”

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Passion and Good Attitude Makes a Good Teacher

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"A good teacher, first of all, should be passionate about teaching and students. Besides, thinking in the students' shoes is also vital when I prepare for the class. "

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From Professor Zhou's perspective, good attitude makes a good teacher. He is convinced that teachers can learn a lot in the process of teaching. While passing on knowledge, a good teacher should make teaching more interesting, for example, using pictures, videos, or some instructional demonstrations to increase student engagement.

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"Physics is actually an interesting subject which is inseparable from real life. It is important to add real life examples to make physics class vivid so that students can feel the charm of it and enjoy the learning."

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Clear Plan Paves Way for the Academic Career

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For Prof. Zhou, having a clear plan during his undergraduate helps him achieve success in academia.

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"Studying abroad was very popular at the University of Science and Technology of China. I have planned well since the very beginning. I wanted to go abroad after graduation and to study for a master's degree and a doctor's degree."

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Professor Zhou Yan studied space physics as an undergraduate student. It is an interesting subject that explores the physical phenomena of space, the solar system, and even wider. Compared with applied physics, spatial physics is rather theoretical.

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When he was applying to graduate schools, he wanted to change the direction to one that is more applicable to real life, which led to his choice of applied physics at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

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"My postgraduate supervisor encouraged me to study a doctoral program in Europe or America, because Europe and the United States have their own distinctive features and strengths. I had received a lot of American offers at the time, including Georgia Tech and UCLA, all of which were good choices. In the end, I chose the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden instead of the prominent American universities. Of course I wanted to experience the great cultural atmosphere in Europe. But more importantly, I was attracted to the supervisor’s research in the next-generation spintronics devices. I thought this topic was closer to real life and related to what I had learned before. Though American universities are more famous, I valued the research subject even more."

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Why CUHK-Shenzhen?

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Professor Zhou Yan said that potential of this university was an important reason attracted him to work at CUHK-Shenzhen.

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"During the interview, I talked with President Xu alone for a whole morning. The fact that a busy president spent so much time interviewing a young teacher made me realize how much effort they put on teaching staff's quality. "

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In the eyes of Professor Zhou Yan, CUHK-Shenzhen has attached great importance to teaching since the beginning. He believes that it is under strict control that the quality of teaching is secured.

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"The leadership's philosophy and management here are in line with the world's top universities, which is very impressive."

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Prior to joining CUHK-Shenzhen, Professor Zhou Yan taught quantum mechanics and a general education course about the impact of modern history on human society at Nanjing University and the University of Hong Kong respectively.

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"I feel that CUHK-Shenzhen students can be compared with those studying at top universities at home and abroad. They are very outstanding in professions and personal abilities. They are also modest and decent, with particularly good attitudes, which are the embodiment of the University's whole-person education. I am especially honoured to be with these outstanding students who make my teaching enjoyable."

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Professor Zhou Yan was awarded the first “Presidential Exemplary Teaching Award” in CUHKSZ in 2018

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Interviewer: Xu Tianyi

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