Chi-Yun Hsu, a PhD student in the Department of Mathematics, is described as a standout teaching fellow: a masterful teacher, a caring mentor of her students, and a dedicated and thoughtful colleague. Chi-Yun’s most recent semester of teaching left both her students and her colleagues singing her praises. Even though this was the first time she had taught Math 21b, “Linear Algebra and Differential Equations,” her Q score was an outstanding 4.7, a score achieved only by the course’s most experienced instructors.

Evaluations confirm Chi-Yun’s impact. “Chi-Yun is a wonderful TF,” said one of her students. “She’s genuinely enthusiastic about the course material and does an incredible job of not only teaching it, but also building intuition of how to synthesize concepts and approach problems.”

How does a young mathematician develop so quickly into a brilliant teacher? By repeatedly requesting challenging teaching opportunities and dedicating herself to learning as much as possible from each experience.

For her first teaching assignment three years ago, Chi-Yun requested what is probably the most challenging assignment for a TF in mathematics, one rarely assigned to graduate students. But Chi-Yun threw herself heart and soul into the course.

Senior preceptor in mathematics, Brendan Kelly, observes that Chi-Yun invested an enormous amount of time during that first teaching assignment reflecting on her work in the classroom, learning from other experienced instructors and refining her own teaching: “Chi-Yun signed up to be observed multiple times, volunteered to get videotaped for additional feedback, and watched multiple other instructors throughout the semester. She consistently went above and beyond the call of an instructor, and this paid great dividends in her teaching. She has developed a repertoire of instructional moves that engage students and elicit students’ understanding.”

Part of what motivated Chi-Yun to improve her teaching that first semester was the early, informal feedback she solicited from students. Disappointed that students seemed to be struggling, voiced in feedback in an anonymous forum, Chi-Yun acted quickly. It speaks volumes about her character and her commitment to improve her teaching that by the end of semester the student evaluations were all positive. Says Jameel Al-Aidroos, senior preceptor in mathematics, “I can’t think of another occasion when a TF has so successfully turned around a first semester that had a rocky start.

Chi-Yun, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is pleased to present you with the Derek C. Bok Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching of Undergraduates. Congratulations!

Chi-Yun Hsu: 2018 Derek C. Bok Award Citation