An outline of teaching approach
My main teaching principle is that learning should take place in the atmosphere of
mutual respect, and it must be challenging and fun.
In my opinion, teaching and learning process is most efficient if the communication
between the instructor and the students is effective, and the constant feedback
from the students is obtained. An integral part of my quantum mechanics courses
(which are intended for senior undergraduate and first year graduate students)
are worksheets designed for in-class work (3-5 minutes), amounting to 10% of
the final grade. At every lecture, during presentation of new material or after
considering physical examples, the students are asked to answer one or more
questions, which either involve deriving intermediate steps in a calculation
or probe understanding of the physical meaning of the topic discussed in the
lecture. These worksheets are graded and returned to the students at the next
lecture. This type of feedback allows me to check the effectiveness of my
presentation of the material to this particular group of students, and also
helps the students check their understanding of the material. In addition,
active in-class work promotes students' attentiveness during the lecture and
provides them with an effective training in fast problem-solving.
To stimulate the students with skill levels above the class average, I introduce
bonus problems in the homework and worksheets as well as pose 'brain teasers'
during the lecture. Bonus problems are more difficult; they are not compulsory
and are for extra credit.
I also believe that it is important to show to students the connection between
the material studied in class and modern research. Therefore, several homework
problem sets contain assignments in which the students are asked to read a certain
paper (usually, Physical Review Letters, Nature or Science) and answer a number of
questions, including calculations of various parameters (discussed in the class)
based on the results of the paper.
My classes are dynamical and challenging. Motivation and hard work are encouraged,
appreciated and rewarded.