Ahmed Elgafy, PhD, Presents American Teaching Model to CQU Professors

By: Shannon Frohme
May 21, 2015

UC Professor Ahmed Elgafy, PhD, Shares his Best Teaching Practices in English

Chongqing University (CQU)/University of Cincinnati (UC) Engineering Joint Cooperative Institute (JCI) Co-Dean Jin Chen, PhD, hosted a teaching seminar titled "Explore American Teaching Model" for CQU professors. The seminar, presented in English by UC Professor Ahmed Elgafy, PhD, drew in professors from Mechanical Engineering, Automotive Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Mathematics and Statistics.

UC Professor Ahmed Elgafy, PhD, gives seminar to CQU professors

UC Professor Ahmed Elgafy, PhD, gives seminar to CQU professors

The Syllabus: A Contract between Teachers and Students

Professor Ahmed Elgafy, PhD, presents syllabi from ENED1091 Engineering Modeling II and MECH2020 Statics and Particle Dynamics to model key teaching practices of American universities. He elaborates on the course information, course descriptions, pre-requisite courses, teaching materials, teaching objectives and processes, curriculum assessment, lesson plans and grading. The group was impressed with his thorough explanation of how to create a syllabus that will most effectively engage students.

In Elgafy’s opinion, a good course syllabus, “acts as a contract between the instructor and their students.” He explains that typically on the first day of the semester the syllabus is announced and broken down, acting as a compliance between the professor and students, noting that important due dates and deadlines are highlighted.

Elgafy, PhD, teaches CQU professors, in English, American Teaching Models

Learning Process Management: A More Scientific Approach to Management

Professor Elgafy shares his insight from many years of experience building teaching objectives and quantitative assessments. He believes traditional final exams have the potential to allow some students to ignore efficient learning habits, resulting in insufficient learning outcomes. Other learning inhibitors include absenteeism, not completing homework assignments and cramming for exams.

Alternately, Elgafy finds that assessing individual and group projects, technical reports, homework, presentations, team work problems and class participation not only allows students to actively engage and manage the course workload, but it also provides a more scientific and formative assessment when evaluating students.

As seen from the examples above, American teaching models pay more attention to students’ everyday performance, and even more attention to managing the learning process. Evaluation of students' learning is more three-dimensional and scientific, where the final exam acts as one component.

CQU Professors actively listen to Ahmed Elgafy

CQU Professors engage in the American Teaching Model seminar

Allow Students to Love Education, Rather than Fear It

In Professor Elgafy’s eyes, acclimating students into a new curriculum is similar to a baby's growth process. In this process, we want to allow students to "love education, not to fear education.”

In order to better implement teaching strategies, he meets with the teaching assistants every week, setting weekly plans and arrangements; in order to better grasp the learning situation, he tracks student attendance, assignments and exams; in order to enable students to better engage in the coursework, he prepares a study guide, and carefully prepares questions and problems for the teams to discuss and solve.

The audience felt Elgafy’s genuine love and enthusiasm for education and teaching throughout the entire seminar. The group asks Elgafy for his best advice on evaluating individual vs. group projects, whether or not to grade the individual team members, how to prevent plagiarism, creating a fair yet challenging grading scale, balancing teaching and research, and mastering time management.

CQU-UC JCI Co-Dean Jin Chen, PhD, (left) and UC Professor Ahmed Elfagy, PhD, (middle)  answer audience questions

CQU-UC JCI Co-Dean Jin Chen, PhD (left) and UC Professor Ahmed Elfagy, PhD, answer audience questions

He advises that professors should allocate equivalent content and difficulty of projects. Students expect to evaluate team projects in “Team Member Participation Percentage Sheets,” or peer evaluations, that each team member fills outs, determining the score of each member’s participation to ensure fairness.

In order to prevent students from copying each other, he will complete a few homework problems with the students in-class, thus reducing their homework load. He has found this tactic effective in minimizing plagiarism.
When developing a course syllabus, he suggests that teachers take into consideration an evaluation of every teaching tactic, lesson plan, and the effort of the students to ensure the most relevant proportion of scientific evaluation.

Lastly, Elgafy suggests teachers dedicate a significant amount of time and effort to prepare for quality lesson plans, adjusting teaching methods and content based on the students’ specific circumstances, in order to maximize learning retention rates.

Ending on a warm and successful note, CQU-JCI plans to organize similar teaching seminars, taught in English, to provide more learning and networking opportunities for Chinese teachers.

Ahmed Elgafy, PhD, professor from University of Cincinnati (UC), College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) Mechanical and Materials Engineering (MME), has taught more than 30 different courses and published more than 30 papers. His extensive teaching experience consistently draws in excellent student feedback, awarding him the “CEAS Professor of the Semester” title in the spring of 2013 and “CEAS Professor of the Year 2013.”