Dr. Mihai Dimian
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Students’ evaluation Report
I think that the best way to define my teaching philosophy is by analyzing the main issues that represent the contemporary paradigm of higher education: personal experience versus pedagogical studies, research versus teaching, and in-class versus distance learning.
Personal Experience versus Pedagogical Studies
“Natural abilities are like natural plants;
they need pruning by study”
If I were to characterize my experience with a single word, I would probably choose diversity. This diversity covers educational systems, areas of study, as well as my teaching experience.
I have studied in three different educational systems: Romanian, in a slow transition from the communist education; French, well organized, but somehow rigid and too traditional; and American, rich in choices, as well as in demands. Based on a highly informative Romanian system, I acquired deep knowledge in various fields of mathematics. For example, in my third year of undergraduate studies, we were acquainted with the geometry of differentiable manifolds and the variational formulation for partial differential equation in Sobolev spaces. Upon receiving my BS in Mathematics, I have delved into physics and computer science. During my master studies, I focused on theoretical mechanics, and finally, electrical engineering became the area for my doctoral studies.
I realized that I enjoyed explaining highly abstract concepts in an easy-to-grasp manner during my undergraduate studies, while helping my friends to prepare for various exams in physics and mathematics. Soon, I was competing with myself to find the clearest way to present the material — a challenge I accepted with great enthusiasm. As a teacher, I often tried to supplement my explanation of various concepts with a historical perspective and anecdotes, as well as with examples of applications that were interesting, exciting, or simply funny. Feeling the need for a more formal training in teaching, I took classes in pedagogy and methods of teaching physics and mathematics. Since then, I have continued to enhance my knowledge in the area of pedagogy by reading various studies and participating in very interesting discussions as a member of the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education.
In conclusion, I believe that not only personal experience but also well-documented pedagogical studies can help me become an accomplished educator.
Research versus Teaching
”…student involvement in research is an efficacious way to educate throughout
the educational system the great mass of students, as well as elite
I think that
research and teaching can no longer be viewed as two distinct activities but
rather as two perspectives on the same educational unit. I am grateful to my advisor, Professor
This Humboldtian symbiosis is also confirmed by the fact that the greatest scientists that I was honored to have as professors, such as Sergey Novikov, 1970 Fields Medalist, and Viorel Barbu, Vice-President of the Romanian Academy of Science, were wonderful teachers.
One of my main goals as an educator is to bring students to a level of proficiency in the subject matter of the course that enables them to apply the acquired knowledge to their own areas of interests. I ask all students to e-mail me a description of their interests and I try to adapt my course to their needs. I assign group projects related to student preoccupations and peer review sessions of these projects will be held at the end of the semester. My lectures are based on a more problem-solving approach to the topic and students will take an active part of the research and rediscovery of main ideas driving the course. A special emphasis will be placed on the problem-creating mechanism. Thus, I am presenting a historical evolution of the ideas in the field of study and I am conducting discussion sessions on classical books that describe what is in the researcher’s mind, such as Faraday’s Experimental Researches on Electricity or Poincare’s Science and Method. In addition, students are encouraged to submit to me their original problems, and the best problems will be part of the course exams and homework. As a professor, not only can I offer the students the knowledge associated with the field of study but also can help them enhance their creativity and mature their capacity to appreciate the real values of science and technology, as well.
In conclusion, I believe that experts engaged in both research and teaching activities are best qualified to accomplish the mission of higher education and have the most rewarding professional experience. It is my aspiration to join the ranks of such specialists.
In-class versus Distance Education
"Thirty years from now the big university
campuses will be relics."
Peter Drucker 
Although I do not support the prediction of Professor Peter Drucker, my life experience made me see changes as great opportunities and not as threats. I think that many advantages of distance learning can be used in our traditional approach to education. As an example, the course lectures and discussion sessions can be recorded and made available on the class website in order to allow the students to study at their own pace after the class. Although the in-class education can better prepare students for lifelong learning, the distance education may better help them during the lifelong experience. In addition, distance education can offer a great opportunity to universities to continue their tradition of mass, not only elite, educators throughout the world.
In conclusion, I believe in the values of traditional educational system but I am very interested in taking advantage of new educational technologies.
In summary, I believe that the dualities existent in the contemporary paradigm of higher education are actually complementary and not antagonistic. I hope that my natural inclinations, together with my knowledge and my experience make me well prepared to take advantage of these complementarities.
<![if !supportLists]> <![endif]>B.R. Clark, Journal of Higher Education, 68 (3), 241-255 (1997).
<![if !supportLists]> <![endif]>R. Lenzner and S. S. Johnson, Forbes, 159 (5), 122-128 (1997).
<![if !supportLists]> <![endif]>S. Naidu (ed.), Learning and teaching with technology (Taylor & Francis Group, 2003).