Teaching Philosophy

Student training and education is the most important and most enjoyable aspect of work for a university professor. Attracting and retaining of students is an important role of a professor that is critical to the well-being of the department. One way to attract students is to retain student’s demands making the required material understandable and interesting, and to demonstrate how this material contributes to their knowledge of the science as a whole. I believe that students need not only to get a particular knowledge but apply it in new and exciting ways. The ultimate goal for the teacher is to communicate new information to students and develop students ability to think. Critical thinking is a key for the success of any student, regardless of his or her future life plans. I want a student to generate an idea and to have the knowledge and background to support that idea. I believe that student with the ability to hypothesize and support his or her arguments will go further in life than a student who must wait for someone else to formulate the answer and then just memorize it. Thus, my responsibility as a teacher is to create an environment where students are empowered to think critically and creatively, to learn to seek resources to achieve their learning goals, to develop as self-evaluators, and to receive constructive feedback about their work. In my teaching experience, efficient learning by students consists of the combination of formal lecture periods, and smaller discussion sections. During lecture periods, students are exposed to a stream of organized information that will teach them the basic blocks of the subject. In discussion sections, students working in smaller groups explore subjects at a deeper level than presented during lectures. I think that students learn more effectively if they take an active role in their learning. This, however, requires that the lecturer develop an environment in the classroom where students feel at ease asking questions and offering answers to posed questions. Indeed, a student should feel comfortable in making an hypothesis and understand that getting the wrong answer is part of the scientific method. Important milestones for my teaching strategy: • to be available to students for assistance with their work when they need it. • to get the students involved individually in the lectures and keeping them up to date in the course material • to encourage students to make the subject matter their own • to convince students to understand concepts, so that they may apply these concepts in a variety of situations, rather than memorize steps to solve a particular problem • to be organized so that both the student and me know what is coming, where we have been and what is expected. • to establish with students a cordial relationship between learner and teacher based on mutual respect rather than one based on authority. • to provide feedback to students on how they are doing, and on how they can improve, throughout the course, so that the final grade is not a surprise. In my view, good research and good teaching are too interwoven to be separable in higher education. One of the important part of the research career is to maintain the research group and educate a new scientific generation of scientists. My personal goals as a research supervisor would encourage students to develop and pursue their own ideas, design experiments to support their idea. Finally, and perhaps most importantly I will support the student to find his(her) own style to electively and understandably communicate the research results to the peers in academia or in industry, and to the general public.


Courses Taught

MTSC-6130G - Surface Science and Catalysis


Group Photos

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Available Positions

We are looking for creative and talented students to join us. Research students will be exposed to diverse and interdisciplinary research activities and will gain a theoretical and practical education in various areas, such as organic and organometallic chemistry, materials and surface science.


Dr. Olena Zenkina University of Ontario Institute of Technology 2000 Simcoe Street North, Oshawa, ON L1H 7K4 Science Building, Room 2020

phone: 905.721.8668 ext. 3644
email: olena.zenkina@uoit.ca