Teaching Statement Alessia Polemi firstname.lastname@example.org
Along my past teaching commitments at University of Siena first, and now at University of Modena, I mainly experienced two kinds of teaching activities: introductory and basic courses and specialized courses. I had several opportunities to teach starting from my very early PhD period at University of Siena. My first experience was the assistance at the Electromagnetic Fields, also conducting reviews before the midterm and final exams. From the beginning, I tried to maintain an interactive and informal atmosphere, so that students were to ease asking questions and keeping engaged. I have always had a strong interest in introductory courses on Electromagnetic Fields. In an introductory course like that, I pay particular attention to cover many topics in the area, in order to allow students to have a comprehensive idea of electromagnetism, and to inject the curiosity into them to discover more about this field of interest. This is a challenging task because students during the first years of their academic studies start to deal with complex functions or with vectorial functions in different courses. In the Electromagnetic Fields course the have to figure out how a complex vectorial function varies with time and space dependence. Different approaches may be taken to facilitate these difficulties, depending on the following academic career of the students I’m teaching to. If they don’t follow an academic studies where they will be face again topics to electromagnetism, I prefer to use a basic formalism and be helped by interactive examples available on the web or that I create. Those examples should be illustrative of propagation phenomena, transmission lines guidance, simple antenna behavior, and so on. If the students will be asked to face more advanced courses in their forthcoming future, I take care of the mathematical formalism since the beginning. I think that an initial effort can be repaid with deeper understandings and that the formalism can help them to be independent to dig into even more complicated problems without the teacher supervising. For these kind of introductory courses, I usually suggest one book as a main reference, and then I can mention a series of related books. I prefer one book as a reference because students at this level still need to have a sort of daily manual they can easily refer to. Further on, in my academic career, I moved to more specialized courses, such as Microwave, Antennas, and Radio Propagation. All of these courses were located at the end of the academic path, and then students were more qualified and focused on their possible future career. In this situation, the teacher has the responsibility not only to establish knowledge on that topic, but also to address the students and open their angle of view. I have always taken care of both aspects. From the cultural training point of view, I start the class by repeating some basic concepts that can be useful in the forthcoming. This allows me putting all the students in an equal starting condition. Then I feel free to proceed further, once the basis is established. For specialized courses, I suggest not a single book as a reference but a variety of books and papers available in literature, in order to strongly encouraged students to widen their literature knowledge and to be aware in comparing different ways to describe and analyze problems. This is usually a mechanism they appreciate, especially looking at a future master thesis preparation when they will be asked to describe a state of the art and then focus on a specific topic. In addiction to a standard teaching route, I always insert specialized seminars along the semester. I can give these seminars as well as I can invite colleagues, even from abroad if they are available. I am convinced that it is a good experience for students to hear different ways of explanation and different voices. I have often decided to give these seminars in English, to expose Italian students to a language which will be part of their future job. The seminars I choose are usually related either to my research activity or to outcoming topics which are targeted to possible work careers as well as the local companies environment. The topics treated in the seminars will be part of possible questions during the examination sessions. During the examination for these specialized courses I am particularly interested in the way the students expose the answer, other than the correctness of the answer itself. I am convinced that at this point of their studies they must be able to manage stressful situations and to find the right way of exposition, such as in a job interview. One other exciting experience in my teaching career has been the participation to specialized classes, in the framework of the European School of Antennas. The students, in that case, were PhD and PostDoc students, and then the class was highly advanced. The topics were related to my research activity and I did also prepare evaluations tests. In my future teaching activity I would like to encounter new aspects and new topics. A risk the teacher runs in teaching the same subject for years is to lose the enthusiasm to inject new energy and changes into the course. I still feel enthusiastic in teaching Electromagnetism, but I also feel equipped to face new challenges.
TEACHING ACTIVITY RECORD - In the academic year 1999/2000, assistance in the Electromagnetic Field course at the School of Engineering of University of Siena - In the academic year 2000/2001, assistance in the Microwave course at the School of Engineering of University of Siena - In the academic year 2001/2002, assistance in the Antennas course at the School of Engineering of University of Siena - In the academic year 2002/2003, appointed to the course Design of Microwave Circuits at the School of Engineering of University of Siena - In 2003, appointed to a course of Numerical Methods for Electromagnetics at the Master on Microwave Systems on Technologies for Telecommunications, Messina (Italy) - In the academic years 2003/2004 and 2004/2005, appointed to the course Electromagnetic Modelling at the School of Engineering of University of Siena - In the academic year 2005, seminars into the school “High Frequency Methods and Travelling Wave Antennas”, European School of Antennas (ACE – Antenna Centre of Excellence), at University of Siena, about: o Green’s function of the dielectric slab o Scattering from a perfectly conducting half-plane - Since academic year 2005/2006, o appointed to the Radio Propagation class at the School of Engineering of University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (graduate program) o assistance in the Electromagnetic Field class at the School of Engineering of University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (undergraduate program) o appointed to the Microwave Lab class at the School of Engineering of University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (graduate program)