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Lisa Pang Teaching Statement

When I was a student, my interest in general chemistry was lacking, but the electric
pickle experiment sparked the mad scientist within me. As a demo to teach the concept of ions
and electricity, my group ran an electric current through a pickle for several minutes causing it
to glow yellow and emit a terrible odor. Every other week, a different group would perform a
similar experiment that would elucidate a particular basic principle of chemistry. These concrete
applications helped me understand the theoretical concepts presented by the professor and
books. One of the best things about being a teacher is witnessing this Ah ha! moment in my
own students. Teachers that can produce these moments will be the driving force that sets
colleges apart from the massive online courses that will be available.
Students are often challenged with learning a large amount of scientific theories and
facts and they struggle with trying to place how science relates to everyday life. I feel hands on
experiments are one of the best tools of active learning, as a way to show the importance of
science. This allows students to experience science themselves and make a connection. Students
will be able to propose experiments that further the studies performed in primary literature.
When I was co-instructor of a summer research course, we utilized a combination of both lab
and lecture. Through the lab, the students could visualize the genetic markers that were passed
down through the generations of flies. Coupling lab with lecture also allows students to get
experience with research by having their own independent projects.
With my teaching, students will discuss journal articles/current events and perform
experiments relevant to the current topic as a way to encourage class participation and
interactive learning. The Ebola outbreak was a hot topic during the time I was teaching anatomy
and physiology at Norco College, and I integrated a presentation on the event. Tying in current
events with the lecture material holds students accountable for understanding what they learn.

A teacher, like a good mentor, inspires students and takes an active role in the critical
thinking process. When I have one-on-one sessions with students I try to emphasize the scientific
method and what hypothesis-driven research means, so that students will understand why
experiments were done in addition to what was done. It is not enough to simply present
concepts to students. They must be able to interpret results and question whether conclusions
drawn from the data are well supported. In doing so, they will appreciate how science is a
process, not just facts.
In order to personally engage with students, I like to integrate humor into the lecture.
For example when discussing the structure of hemogloblin, which uses iron to carry oxygen, the
introductory slide had a diagram of a ferrous wheel. Jokes help students remember
information as well as bridge the gap between professor and student. This is particularly helpful

Lisa Pang Teaching Statement


during one-on-one sessions. Similarly, making relatable analogies make complicated things
seem less complicated. For instance, one of my students had difficulty comprehending how
stochastic intercellular signaling contributes to cell fate determination, so I suggested he
consider the cells as people bullying each other until one succeeds. While working as an
instructor at Elon University, I noticed two students doing poorly in class, especially in the small
assessment quizzes given at the beginning of class. After encouraging them to make an outline
of that days experiments, they soon performed much better on the quizzes. Additionally, for the
lab practical one of the students proudly showed me her study notes which she had laminated.
Seeing her excitement and pride in her work was gratifying, knowing that I made a difference
and helped a student reach her potential. A good teacher will have the patience and creativity to
teach fundamental concepts in biology to a student having a hard time comprehending them.
Several techniques I will employ to assess student comprehension will be 2 minute
papers during class and short answer/essay questions as well as multiple choice questions that
complete a thought rather than fill in the blank or match on exams. For example, instead of an
exam question asking the student to design an experiment, the question would show data and
ask for the student to interpret the data and conclusions or defend/refute a conclusion provided.
Additionally, having pre-lecture assessments in conjunction with post-lecture chapter quizzes
served to expose students to the material multiple times allowing improved understanding.
Another valuable skill for students to learn is proper scientific writing. It is important for
students to be able to communicate their ideas and research both orally and with the written
word. My experiences of being a teaching assistant for non-majors courses have given me
insight into how to present science in such a way that students do not think that science is not
out of their reach. In Biology of Aging, we encouraged students to work together, using the
Jigsaw technique, to understand a case study. The students really enjoyed this. Students were
able to demonstrate understanding by teaching concepts to their peers.
A successful teacher is able to reach students that have been slogging through the
material and convert them into a student that comes to ask the teacher for help and then ends
up helping another student who is struggling with the material. One of my microbiology
students, even though she struggled throughout the semester, asked if she could be a TA because

she enjoyed the class. These teaching methods have allowed me to witness many Ah ha
moments of my own students. My desire is for students to not only learn biology, but also
appreciate its complexity and beauty.