Faculty Spotlight: Yasmin Gulzar

The Teaching & Learning Center at Mountain View College seeks to share teaching practices across the entire institution. The following article showcases a faculty member, provides insight into the environment they’ve created for MVC students, and demonstrates effective teaching practices. 

This month we showcase Yasmin Gulzar, Professor of Computer Science.

What is one element about MVC that makes it the “best college on earth?”

Wow, this is hard to describe in “one” element but the first thing that came to my mind was diversity.  Mountain View College is full of diversity – If you look all around the campus you will see people here from all parts of the world.  But MVC is diverse in all areas; student dreams and goals, teaching and learning, in every department and in every area of MVC.  I believe that this is one of the many elements that makes MVC the “best college on earth” and sets us apart from all other campuses; we embrace all the different aspects of every culture that is unique within each area of MVC.

MVC is able to embrace diversity because of the MVC family atmosphere here on-campus, and this is one thing I like to bring into my classrooms and tell my students that you all are part of a big family here at MVC and our goal and mission is to help you succeed not only in my classroom but also in your life.  We are here for our students to help them achieve their goals and dreams!

How would your students describe you or your teaching style?

Based on the class surveys I give my students at the end of each semester, students have described me as: caring, inspirational, punctual, organized and respected. Below is some feedback I have received from my students on the class surveys:

“I really liked this class it was helpful and really fun to go too”

“One of the best teachers here at Mountain View. I really enjoyed her class.”

“Best teacher ever at MVC in my opinion. She is super nice, helps you whenever, understands that things in life happens. She is the angel among teachers.”

“The labs were VERY time consuming for me but it was a good way for me to learn. DO NOT get behind! It is a lot of work but it is not hard at all! She is very helpful. She responds to emails quickly and she would even email us every week to remind us what work was due.”

“Mrs. Gulzar is very helpful and can guide you through any problems you may have, plus she’s nice.  :)”

What teaching strategies do you find most successful in your courses?

The teaching strategies that I have found most useful in my courses are anything that get students engaged in the learning process so for me this involves:

  • Active learning & Interactive lectures – I have students get involved in the lecture by dividing them up into groups and giving them topics from the chapter readings. They are told to read through their topic, analyze what they read, and create a PPT presentation on their topic and present it to the class.  This gets students engaged in the learning process and students enjoy learning from each other. Students have always told me they like doing this because it allows them to learn and hear from their peers.
  • Discussion Strategies – students are given discussion topics to talk about at the end of lectures, discussion topics are tied into real-world examples so students can see how that chapters topics are being used in the real-world.

What do your students love most about your courses?

I teach Computer Science courses so when students come into my class they are learning about computer concepts and computer applications.  Based on what students have come back and told me and the feedback I have received on my class surveys students love working with the simulations, they like working on group projects and being able to present topics to the class.  I have had students tell me that they like being able to hear what their peers think about the topics being presented and they like listening to these things from a different perspective.  I think what they love most about these courses is that they are learning real-life skills and applications and they enjoy how the whole course ties into the real-world.

What is one creative solution you’ve implemented to address a specific challenge in your courses?

I believe getting students engaged in the classroom is a challenge I have faced and I have been able to address this challenge by utilizing group projects and interactive lectures to get students involved in the learning process. I use a lot of cooperative and active learning and apply some of the flipped classroom approach in my classes.  By doing this, students are having to read, write, analyze and create presentations as a group and then present their projects and topics to the class.  I also use a Learning Management System where students can work in a simulation environment and learn software applications being taught with a hands-on approach.

What has been your most positive or rewarding teaching experience?

The most positive and rewarding teaching experience has been to see students from my past classes come back to me and say, your class was great and what we learned in their we used in our other classes. Also, being able to link students with industry partners and to know that you are helping them achieve their goals and dreams is a rewarding experience.  We are here at MVC to help our students succeed in life and if I can help at least 1 student achieve their goal then I will feel like I have done my job well.

What advice would you give to a new faculty member at MVC?

Enjoy each and every day you have with these students, sometimes you alone are going to be there mentor, coach, advocate and support to help get them through that semester.  Working at MVC is an honor, make sure you avail opportunities to give back to the community and support MVC in all you do.  Lastly, be committed to lifelong learning, because like I tell my students in my classes, learning doesn’t end in my class or at the end of the semester, we are always learning even as Instructor’s we are always trying to find new ways to teach our students and get them engaged in our classrooms, we do this by committing ourselves to lifelong learning.

Who is one person at MVC who has been instrumental to your success (and why)?

Wow! This is a really, really tough one and it was so hard to narrow it down to one person because there have been many MVC family members who have been an inspiration to me and have helped guide me while on my journey here at MVC.

If I must pick one person then I have to say, Alex Diaz.  When I first came to MVC five years ago as an adjunct instructor, my Dean at that time, Alex Diaz, was a remarkable person who taught me to pursue my goal of full-time teaching.  I have learned so much from him, he is a dedicated person always ready to assist his students, his fellow faculty members and his division.