PKAL Faculty for the 21st Century

Tingxiu Wang

What works: Observations from the Field

Tingxiu Wang is Professor of Mathematics at Oakton Community College.

If a visitor were to come into your classroom/lab—the environment in which you work with students—what impression would s/he leave with?

Students learn better if they were motivated and after their questions were answered. So my students have plenty time to ask questions. My lectures are given with careful explanations, logical organization, and good sense of humor. I use real world applications to motivate students. I am especially interested in examples that happened on the campus and in the areas they live. For example, to teach geometric sequences, I begin with the deadlines at Oakton.

ActionsDeadlinesSequence, 2n, n = 0, 1, 2, 3,...
Drop a class with 100% refund Week 11=20
Drop a class with 50% refundWeek 22=21
Drop a class without “w” on transcriptWeek 4 4=22
Drop a class with “w” on transcriptWeek 88=23
Finish a semesterWeek 1616=24

What brought you to an interest in “advancing the frontiers of education” and to connecting your research to that work?

As an educator, it is our responsibility to foster qualified students who can meet the challenges in the fields they will work. As the time changes, there are many changes consistently challenging us. These changes include technology advancement, new discovers, more diversified student backgrounds, and economic globalization. These changes bring us endless challenges to consider and investigate, thus promoted me to the frontier of education, and to my research. I would not have done my best, had my research not benefited my students.

Were there crises in doing this? What made you persevere?

Although there are no crises, there are risks and difficulties. For example, when we implemented our first NSF STEP project, a difficulty was recruiting students for our Summer Bridge Program. The risk was the program could fail. After we analyzed our student data base, we modified our plan, and overcame our difficulty. Generally speaking, risks and difficulties exit in every thing we do. They are just what we call challenges. A chance to be in the frontier of education made me excited, and successfully overcoming challenges made me persevere.

What connections have been of most value in doing this?

Connections with my colleagues in many different disciplines and with PKAL are most valuable. Any significant project must have a broad impact, which often requires collaborations and support of many disciplines, and other organizations.

What kind of institutional culture needs to be in place to nurture careers of faculty actively seeking to integrate their research and teaching?

I would like to see an institutional culture that encourages and support scholarship and professional development, and that has a transparent administration and effective communication. Although such institutional culture often has been considered existing, it requires strong nurturing, or it can gradually vanish or be replaced by other environments.