WHEN DR. PEYMAN YOUSEFI REFLECTS on what’s shaped his academic journey, he thinks of the rapidly evolving technology that grew exponentially throughout his life and career and the new and exciting opportunities it offers to transform education.
He says embracing forward-thinking approaches empowers students to become agile problem-solvers and lifelong learners in a swiftly changing world.
“Rapid change can make it difficult to adjust, but cultivating a growth mindset and prioritizing ongoing education can help individuals stay competitive and uncover new opportunities,” he says.
His mother, a vocational training instructor, encouraged him to find joy in lifting others. “My mother always supported her students and worked collaboratively with them.”
His first experience with teaching came as an undergraduate when he helped classmates understand complex concepts. Dr. Yousefi’s commitment to helping others is one of many reasons he was recognized with a 2023 UBC Okanagan Provost’s Award for Teaching Excellence and Innovation—and this isn’t his first teaching award. His deep passion for teaching was recognized even as a graduate student at UBCO when he received the Provost’s Award for Teaching Assistants and Tutors.
While his mother influenced his love of teaching, a passion for sustainability inspired Dr. Yousefi to pursue engineering. After graduating with his doctorate, he moved quickly into a teaching role but remains deeply involved in his field through mentorship. His research contributions focus on modelling and simulating complex hydrological processes, predicting water availability and quality, as well as supporting decision-making for water management.
Dr. Yousefi incorporates real-world engineering projects into his curriculum to enable students to apply their theoretical knowledge to practical situations. He also invites professionals from related fields as guest speakers, allowing students to learn about different aspects of the industry and career opportunities.
“My main responsibility is to help graduates earn experience,” he says. “Educators should support their students to find what they are passionate about, even former students who have graduated and need mentorship to build their careers.”
Involving students in transforming his courses and teaching methods has proven invaluable to Dr. Yousefi. By establishing advisory boards, students meet with him regularly to discuss concerns, provide feedback on teaching methods and offer suggestions for improvement. “I want students to feel their voices are heard. Their insights have been a powerful tool in creating a welcoming and inclusive learning environment.”
He brings those ideas with him into the classroom. He puts thought into how he teaches. He embraces technology because his students embrace it, and he isn’t afraid to use new tools and feedback to redesign course content or his teaching methods. Exploring new technologies in the classroom—such as virtual reality and simulation tools or adaptive learning platforms—allows him to customize the learning experience.
Exploring assessment techniques that accommodate diverse learning styles was part of his International Scholarship of Educational Leadership program project, completed in 2022. “I feel proud when I help students successfully learn difficult concepts. It’s a gratifying moment, making me love my job even more.”
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