Sunday, December 17, 2017

Susan Chen on post-secondary budget cutbacks, Netflix, and Camosun’s integrity

June 15, 2016 by Adam Marsh, Student Editor

Know Your Profs is an ongoing series of profiles on the instructors at Camosun College. Every issue we ask a different instructor at Camosun the same 10 questions in an attempt to get to know them a little better.

Do you have an instructor that you want to see interviewed in the paper? Maybe you want to know more about one of your teachers, but you’re too busy, or shy, to ask? Email and we’ll add your instructor to our list of teachers to talk to.

This issue we talked to Camosun Statistics prof Susan Chen about math anxiety, changes in post-secondary education, and her many favourite meals.

1. What do you teach and how long have you been at Camosun? 

Statistics. 18 years.

2. What do you personally get out of teaching?

The satisfaction of passing on the (little!) knowledge that I hold to my students and learning a lot more from them. Teaching is my passion and also happens to be my profession by training. Teaching always means learning to me: I learn for my students, and I learn from them.

Camosun College Statistics instructor Susan Chen (photo by Jill Westby/Nexus).

Camosun College Statistics instructor Susan Chen (photo by Jill Westby/Nexus).

3. What’s one thing you wish your students knew about you?

That I care deeply about my students and I try my best to help them succeed in my statistics courses. It is not uncommon for me to spend many hours just to prepare for one lecture. I also spend a lot of time thinking about specific ways to help individual students who have difficulties in my courses. I love statistics with a passion. It’s an increasingly important subject in this information age, and I feel privileged to be able to share my knowledge in this area with my students. Most of them probably don’t know how happy I am when they do well in my courses. I genuinely wish to see each and every one of my students be successful in their lives.

4. What’s one thing you wish they didn’t know about you?

My unique accent, perhaps?

5. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you as a teacher here?

Whenever a student with math anxiety becomes a star student in my class and comes to tell me that he or she really enjoyed my course, I feel that I have contributed in a small way to their life-changing learning experience. It also makes my day when students ask me if there is another statistics course that they can take after they complete the intro stats course with me, especially from those who have believed for years that they couldn’t do mathematics or statistics.

6. What’s the worst thing that’s happened to you as a teacher here?

There have been budget cuts in all but two or three of the 18 years that I have worked at Camosun. The cuts to the Computer Science program and Physics second-year courses are particularly close to home. I have serious concerns about further losses of second-year math and stats courses. These would affect the integrity of our college’s math and stats course offerings and impair our ability to serve our students.

7. What do you see in the future of post-secondary education? 

I see a lot of changes coming in post-secondary education. Student composition and students’ expectations are changing, so institutions and faculty will need to explore new ways to adapt to these new landscapes. In particular, financial constraints on post-secondary institutions will be an ongoing concern. It seems that both the students and faculty are doing more than ever, but I really think there is a limit as to how much colleges and universities can be financially stretched without affecting the quality of post-secondary education.

8. What do you do to relax on the weekends?

I do a variety of things to relax on weekends. I like to go to the gym, pick up a good book, listen to podcasts while doing house chores, go for walks, watch my daughter playing the violin, connect with family and friends on social media, and, of course, Netflix. My Sunday afternoons are usually devoted to marking (not relaxing) and then cooking and listening to podcasts (relaxing).

9. What is your favourite meal?

I have not one but many favourite meals. I love cooking as well as eating out. I love garden salads, gourmet Italian pasta dishes, authentic Greek platters, sushi, and Chinese meals with tofu and lots of green vegetables.

10. What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Distracted drivers.

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