Prof. Dmitry Pelinovsky: Teaching Philosophy (2008)

My teaching experience includes lecturing in McMaster University and University of Toronto. In the past eight years of service for McMaster University, I taught 11 undergraduate courses including linear algebra, ordinary and partial differential equations, complex analysis, mathematical physics, scientific computing and numerical methods. These courses include both core courses for students in Mathematics and Statistics and service courses for students in Science and Engineering. In addition, I taught three graduate courses on dynamical systems, partial differential equations, and stability theory.

My role as an instructor is to create, adopt, and implement the course program, to deliver a series of lectures, to supervise performance of teaching assistants and other instructors, to prepare home assignments, tests, and exam papers, to maintain web pages of the course, and to handle student questions and problems when they arise. I pay special attention to the web-based form of education including interactive online lecture notes on numerical methods, interactive software for web-based simulations of differential equations, online home assignments and online grade keeping options. I have participated in innovative programs for higher education, such as WebCT and qualification workshops of CLL (Center for Leadership in Learning) at McMaster University.

In addition to online resources for teaching and learning, I have produced two coursewares, which are printed by the McMaster bookstore and distributed to students of the course in addition to the main textbook. One courseware entitled ``Recipes of how to solve problems of mathematical physics'' became a bestseller in the McMaster bookshop and was printed for the past four successive years. The other courseware on methods of scientific computations written in 2001-2003 was extended in 2005-2007 to become a full-size textbook entitled ``Numerical Mathematics''. This book was completed together with my colleague Matheus Grasselli and was published by Jones and Barlett Publishers in 2008. This book aims undergraduate courses on numerical methods but it can be used as a supplementary text for courses in linear algebra, vector calculus, and differential equations.

My teaching philosophy is to deliver simple and clear ideas of the course to an average student. As a non-native English speaker, I use many complimentary tricks to improve my presentation skills such as writing on slides, using laptop and computer projectors, drawing schemes and figures, classifying different cases and types, simplifying proofs, etc. In addition, I have introduced several game elements such as quick quizzes during lecture hours, interactive web surveys and modeling examples. The latter elements have attracted students to attend my classes.

I approach individually to hard-thinking students during office hours and beyond. I also encourage students to attack advanced problems for the course. I consider my teaching goals accomplished if the students get a clear comprehension of the course, become used to solving typical problems, and pass successively assignments and exams.

I enjoy working with students and consider teaching as an important part of a professor's job. While research papers are studied by experts, the teaching materials ought to be clear and understandable to a wide group of undergraduate students. My teaching skills are improving every academic year and I am pleased to see a positive feedback from my students in the course evaluation surveys.