Teachers make all the difference

There is nothing quite like passion to motivate students to put in effort and strive for their best. Ms Julia Checco experiences that every single day she goes to school at Curtin University Singapore. “I have never met such passionate teachers in my life. You can tell that they love the subject and teaching,” says the 19-year-old, adding that the teachers take the trouble to simplify concepts. “By showing us the link between the theory and how it was applicable to their work also encouraged us to be more confident in our future when working, as we know that what we are learning is essential to be good at what we do. “They inspire me as they make me feel good about my capabilities. They are always encouraging us students, and they are enthusiastic about our responses in class, telling us our ideas and examples are great. Even if we are wrong, they tell it to you really nicely and still praise you for your attempt.” Obviously enjoyable, the lessons are spread out among only four classes a week, three hours each time. Two-thirds are dedicated to lectures and the remaining time for tutorials. This scenario is a contrast to Ms Checco’s junior college days. “They (short and infrequent classes) enabled me to be more independent, as a lot of time was given to our projects instead, allowing us to do outside research due to the time available.” Long class time may not be part of the curriculum but that doesn’t mean Ms Checco, who is in a Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing & Management) course, is less involved. The small size of the lecture rooms also plays a huge part in capturing everyone’s attention. Describing herself as “very involved”, she explains: “The teachers love asking questions about how we feel about a certain model taught or our experiences that can be linked to a certain theory. They accept any answers because they respect our opinions and are not narrow-minded in the sense that they believe only their way is right.” Methods like role-play and inter-cultural engagement are not uncommon during tutorials. Such interactivity facilitates learning, feels Ms Checco. Ms Checco first heard “positive reviews” about Curtin University Singapore through her sister, Silvia, 25, who graduated with a Master’s degree in Human Resource in 2011 and is now a supervisor with optics brand Leica. “Silvia felt they provided sufficient support and knowledge without impeding independency through ‘spoon feeding’. “Not only that, their passion for the topic and teaching was evident, making studying more desirable – I’ve never really seen my sister studying before she entered Curtin,” she recalls with a laugh. Overall, the elder sibling was “satisfied with the education system which she felt provided her with the skills, knowledge and experience to make her confident in the working environment”. So when it came to Ms Checco’s turn to pick a university where she could pursue her love for commerce studies, it didn’t take very long to decide on Curtin University Singapore. And her experience to date? “I love it!” exclaims Ms Checco, citing the friends she has made as memorable aspects of her current academic journey. Of her university mates: “They are a lovely bunch of ‘crazy’ supportive people that come from all over the world with different backgrounds. We go mad together before our submissions, which can sometimes get pretty intense.” She describes an incident where she and a friend ran towards an open field of pigeons, an instinctive reaction of the moment to relieve examination stress. Ms Checco may not have many rounds of academic stress left as she will be graduating in 2014.  After her stint at Curtin University Singapore, she hopes to enter the workforce straightaway. “I want to eventually become a brand manager one day. The course has provided me with the essential and relevant knowledge and skills.” She has even started talking to her managing director father about the content she has learnt: “He is amused at what I’ve been taught as he finds it very beneficial and relevant to his work.” And in all likelihood, relevant to Ms Checco’s work in the future as well.