a journal of a researcher

Saturday, September 18, 2004

When I am teaching

Time is so tight when I am teaching. It is the first time I teach web services in the e-business course. It is a good challenge to teach a new topic. How can I make myself clear? How can I make student work out?

One fundamental hint for me to teach and choose the research topic for the students (master students) is to make sure that the training will bring the students good career prospective. Most of the students come to university for a professional training (the rest are for passing time). So the professors have to think what training you provide to your students so that they can get a job after graduation. I found Canadian Universities do not use the employment rate and the income as index to rank the universities as American Universities. I also found the courses in computer science in some Canadian Universities are too far away from the market demands. The professors like to teach the students the subjects they are good at. They do not bother to look into the demand of the industry, or they do not care the future of their students. That is too bad.

The registration rate of my class proves that the students are smart. Well, some students are really smart. But not all. Quit a few students do not have enough experiences to debug their code. Their ability to solve problems is quite low. They work only under well tuned situation, and solve very simple problems. If they do not improve, I do not think they can work in an industrial environment. That is just training. Why are they like this?

For most of the Chinese students, which are a big portion in my class, I found our Chinese style training build a lot of followers, not the initiators. They are satisfied in knowing what you teach them. They have weak ability to explore the new world. My current master student proves this again and again. He never did something more than me, even the trivial things. I am tired of this. Do I not demonstrate enough?

6 Comments:

  • Cool post, Yuhong.

    By Blogger Daniel Lemire, at 5:56 AM  

  • I would presume the biggest problem of chinese students(most of, not everyone) is that they don't know what they are doing and they don't know why they are doing so. For the students who have registrated, how many of them know the content of E-business before registering this course and how many of them registered this course merely because of the fashion term "E-business"?

    This topic reminds me of another old question: how many CS grad students are indeed interested in CS and want to contribute to the IT industry by means of doing research? The problem of pursuing graduate study only for degree exists all around the world, but I see this problem happening more frequently among chinese students. In my opinion, interest is the best mentor for studying everything, especially in science. Without a keen interest, it's hard to do more than expected.

    As to the problem of following, it's the outcome of chinese education system. Students sometimes are not encouraged to go one more step further. I suffered from this a lot too, you only get nothing, sometimes even worse, from doing more than assigned.

    As I know, every chinese student in your class just came here last month and most of them don't have experience studying abroad, some of them may be fighting against their previous bad study strategy right now and trying to be active.

    I also have a different thoughts of computer science courses seeing from a different angle. Market demand is an important factor because unlike other natural science(chemistry, physics etc.), computer science has its biggest impact on technology which results in commercial benefit, but do remember that market demand only cares about technology. From this perspective, computer science is no more than an engineering discipline. Consider EE, there is no "electrical science", but scientists from other disciplines such as physics, chemistry, material and even biology nowadays contribute to the electrical engineering and bring us the lastest amazing technology, and they are the backbone of EE. Since computer science has established its own reputation of science as well as engineering, the composition of computer science faculty turns out to be more blended, every force from different areas is desired by the faculty and so that's why, as you said, professors have things that they are good at.
    Market demand has been always lagging techology development since the existence of IT industry, and no one is able to predict what next demand is, hence, besides knowing the lastest technology, a student must know how to solve a problem so that he won't get lost when facing a new emerging technology. From my own experience, the best way to obtain this skill is to learn different subjects in CS because by doing this, I can feel and abstract the common things behind all these areas. Studying any single technology cannot provide such a benefit. This is the nature of education from university rather than from a professional training institution.
    Oppositely, companies only care about if this candidate reinforces what the company lacks. So ideally, students are versatile so that they have skills on different levels but...

    Just a few view points.

    By Blogger Weiwei Geng, at 1:17 PM  

  • I would presume the biggest problem of chinese students(most of, not everyone) is that they don't know what they are doing and they don't know why they are doing so. For the students who have registrated your course, how many of them know the content of E-business before registering this course and how many of them registered this course merely because of the fashion term E-business?

    This topic reminds me of another old question: how many CS grad students are indeed interested in CS and want to contribute to the IT industry by means of doing research? The problem of pursuing graduate study only for degree exists all around the world, but I see this problem happening more frequently among chinese students. In my opinion, interest is the best mentor for studying everything, especially in science. Without a keen interest, it's hard to do more than expected.

    As to the problem of following, it's the outcome of chinese education system. Students sometimes are not encouraged to go one more step further. I suffered from this a lot too, you only get nothing, sometimes even worse, from doing more than assigned.

    As I know, every chinese student in your class just came here last month and most of them don't have experience studying abroad, some of them may be fighting against their previous bad study strategy right now and trying to be active.

    I also have a different thoughts of computer science courses seeing from a different angle. Market demand is an important factor because unlike other natural science(chemistry, physics etc.), computer science has its biggest impact on technology which results in commercial benefit, but do remember that market demand only cares about technology. From this perspective, computer science is no more than an engineering discipline. Consider EE, there is no "electrical science", but scientists from other disciplines such as physics, chemistry, material and even biology nowadays contribute to the electrical engineering and bring us the lastest amazing technology, and they are the backbone of EE. Since computer science has established its own reputation of science as well as engineering, the composition of computer science faculty turns out to be more blended, every force from different areas is desired by the faculty and so that's why, as you said, professors have things that they are good at.
    Market demand has been always lagging techology development since the existence of IT industry, and no one is able to predict what next demand is, hence, besides knowing the lastest technology, a student must know how to solve a problem so that he won't get lost when facing a new emerging technology. From my own experience, the best way to obtain this skill is to learn different subjects in CS because by doing this, I can feel and abstract the common things behind all these areas. Studying any single technology cannot provide such a benefit. This is the nature of education from university rather than from a professional training institution.
    Oppositely, companies only care about if this candidate reinforces what the company lacks. So ideally, students are versatile so that they have skills on different levels but...

    Just a few view points.

    By Blogger Weiwei Geng, at 1:18 PM  

  • It is insteresting. That is the longest post I ever got. What are science and technology? What are research and engineering work? What do you want? Science is no more the game of rich people in the sense of european traditions. The good research project is no more generated by personal curiosity. Just two examples: Amazon uses REST as one of the Web services protocol that was created by Roy Fielding in this Ph.D. thesis of 2000 (See Architectural Styles and the Design of Network-based Software Archiectures). I just cited his work in my class today.
    The second example: last year, a ph.d. student from Stanford gave an invited talk in IJCAI03. He discussed the methods to distinguish intelligent agent and human being on the internet. Motivated by the needs from the real world, doing profound research are the qualities of a researcher. Not for science to do science, or for technology to do technology. Foundamentally they are on the same foundation. Differences are the standard of solving the problem and presenting the problem.

    In my class, I motivate the students to explore more, e.g.by just give the bottom line of the assignment. The students are encouraged to use the new weapon to implement their own ideas. And I also show the possibilities to dig out the research topics from "***".

    Science is a freedom world. No border, no limitation, and no doctrine. I am happy.

    By Blogger flydragon, at 6:38 PM  

  • I have to defense for the students by one or two sentences. Some of them are excellent. They are not ignorant on the industrial companies and products. One student even made a presentation on ebXML for me and Harold, a topic I would like to know. We will arrange this presentation in CS seminar series.

    Most of the students are serious and I need to spend at least half one hour after the class to answer the questions. I can feel the students are trying hard to make things run and finish the assingment in the best quality. In addition, I attracted one or two students who have fulfilled their required courses. They come to audit, without asking credit. Well, there may be a few who are waiting the others to do the assignments. But at least they are attending the classes.

    To be a professor, the happiness is to work with the smart students and to see the progresses of all students.

    By Blogger flydragon, at 6:55 PM  

  • :) Good to see your comments on my words.
    Sometimes I don't think I am qualified to discuss such a topic on this level, but I would like to spell it out so that I am able to know what I am lacking from the comments of other people just like what you said. Thanks.

    I mentioned some problems of students doesn't mean that I suspect their ability. The original purpose was to say a general problem. I apologize if my sentences were causing the misunderstanding, I am still trying hard to improve my english, a tough job.

    I will keep track on your blog and learn as much as I can.

    By Blogger Weiwei Geng, at 8:17 AM  

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