Department of Chemistry
Second Place Recipient of the Merit Award for Excellence in Teaching 2020-2021
Mayyada EL-Sayed began teaching in AUC’s Department of Chemistry in 2011, and has taught a wide range of courses that are much in demand.
In reflecting on her teaching, El-Sayed makes communication the first pillar. And effective communication requires effective demonstration. This entails the use of various techniques of instruction, in order to make students feel “at home” with the subject: explaining concepts by means of electronic and hand-written notes, flowcharts, illustrative images, models, and animations or videos if necessary. In addition, she emphasizes the logic behind the concepts, to encourage students to reason and analyze as opposed to memorizing. The second pillar is collaboration, and this involves group projects, discussions and problem-solving exercises which stimulate the students’ team-working and critical thinking skills. Students in her courses learn how to prepare research papers/presentations/technical reports, and in so doing improve their collaborative research, communication, and technical writing skills.
To further stimulate the critical thinking skills of the students, El-Sayed uses peer-review assignments where students evaluate their peers’ work and critical review exercises where the students assess published scientific articles. These exercises are important since tomorrow’s scientists and engineers have to be innovative and creative. The lab component of her courses is also essential for both hands-on experiences as well as for stimulating independent and creative thinking. El-Sayed believes that liberal arts education is increasingly important in today’s world because it produces students who are able to adapt to evolving challenges. Hence, her classes involve discussions of sustainability and community-based activities that make the students relate to their environment and society.
El-Sayed has taught 15 different courses spanning the whole range from 1000-6000 level courses, and varying between lecture, lab, seminar and independent study courses. Quantitatively, her teaching has impacted a very large number of students at AUC on the undergraduate and graduate levels. This is in addition to the undergraduate (14) and graduate students (10) that she has supervised or is still supervising. She has also mentored three PhD students as a member of their PhD advisory committee. In addition, she has mentored several undergraduate and graduate students in projects, assignments and term papers relevant to courses and theses not taught/supervised by her.
Her student evaluations have been consistently high, with students noting that she is organized, prepared, knowledgeable, passionate, fair, intelligent, understanding, supportive, and professional. The positives student feedback includes comments from international students visiting AUC.
Not content to rely on past successes, El-Sayed's attendance at tutorials, workshops, symposia, etc., having to do with methods of instruction in the sciences, as well as events where more general pedagogical issues were the focus, is truly impressive. In short, she is an outstanding teacher who seeks to engage students through active learning and creative thinking and is continually educating herself in the most effective ways of fulfilling this goal.
To know more about Mayyada El-Sayed, click here.