September 11, 2007

Graduation Day – 2007

Posted in Graduation at 6:09 am by drzabokia

One of the greatest joys of a lecturer for me is to witness the graduation of my students.  Its gives me pride and joy to see them wearing the gown and the mortar board, and walking up the stage to collect their scrolls.  It’s a joy to see them sharing this memorable occasion with their loved ones especially their parents who have supported them both financially and emotionally. 

On Sunday, 9 September 2007, I attended my students’ graduation to perform some duties as well as an invited guest.  As I looked around, I can’t help but observing all the happy faces – students, parents, siblings and friends.  It’s such a joyous occasion.  I would never want to miss any graduation.  I know that some lecturers do not fancy attending graduation.  It’s boring to them – lots of protocol, long speeches.  It’s nothing exciting – just students receiving the scroll.  What’s the big deal?  Well, it’s a big deal to the students and their loved ones.  Graduation Day marks an important and significant milestone in their lives.  It’s the beginning of a new chapter in their lives – a chapter that is filled with challenges that may be both exciting and uncertain. 

For me, it could be last time I meet them.  From now onwards, it’s probably, ‘see’ you in msn and keep in touch through email.  I felt privileged when some of them introduced me to their parents and even grandparents.  I also felt appreciated for the effort that I have put into my work – lecturing and counselling.  Their past is forgiven – irregular attendance, late assignment submission, grievances, numerous unreasonable complaints, etc.   

I always dress well for graduation ceremony.  I loved to be photographed with my students.  Somehow, I feel appreciated through the photography sessions as well – they care to have my picture taken with them.  I have photos of some of them on the wall in my office.  Most commented that I look as young as them. 

Post-award ceremony

The excitement is diminishing. It will be another year before I attend one again.  Looking forward to it annually… 

Congratulations to the Class of 2007 – BSE3E, as they launch to high-flying careers.  


August 28, 2007

How my students address me?

Posted in Salutation at 5:26 am by drzabokia

In my first class, I introduced myself as Miss Christine.  I was still single then.  Only a handful of my students call me Miss Lee, and they were Engineering students.  Some just call, “Miss” or even “Christine”.  Now, after being married for almost 7 years, students still address me as Miss Christine even though they know that I’m married. 

In the early days, some of my foundation students addressed me as “Cher”.  Initially, I was unsure what “Cher” means.  Later, I found out that it is the short form for Teacher.  “Cher” sounds friendlier.  I hardly hear “Cher” anymore – I miss them. 

I received my doctorate in August 2006.  Of course, this was not publicly announced in the college.  I am still known and addressed as Miss Christine by most of my students.  Only once did I introduce myself as Dr Lee to one of the classes.  I told them that Dr Christine was not the proper way.  It may be the Malaysian way but it was not the correct way to address.  They should either address me as Dr Lee or just call me Christine.  Nevertheless, they are still more comfortable with Dr Christine or just Dr.  Well, Dr Christine sounds nicer than Dr Lee. J 

This is my favourite – “Tai Ka Cheh”, which means big sister in Cantonese.  This is the most recent one – by some of students who have just graduated.  To me, it is a privilege.  They have not just shown their respect but also treated me as a friend. 

How the students address me is not important.  The most important thing is that they show their respect.    

August 27, 2007

The Perfect Lecturer

Posted in Roles and Responsibilities at 9:11 am by drzabokia

In the eyes of a student… 


Helpful – approachable even the midst of busyness 




Advises or counsels students – shows concern when students seem unmotivated, have absenteeism problems or obtain poor results. 

Answers every question willingly 

Explains again and again without looking annoyed when prompted 

Shares practical examples or personal experience on a particular topic 

Well-prepared for each class 

Posses a good sense of humour 


In the eyes of your employer… 

All of the above and lots more… 

The most important criteria –

You do everything that you are assigned to do, with a good standard.

Does the Perfect Lecturer exist?

I know at least 2 lecturers who fit most of the criteria, unfortunately, I don’t think I am one of them.  🙂

August 23, 2007

FAQs on Submission of Assignments

Posted in FAQs at 8:49 am by drzabokia


Frequently Asked Questions by Students

Q:        Can you extend the due date?

A:         No.


Q:        Can I submit my assignment late?

A:         Yes, but marks will be deducted.


Q:        When is the last date to submit without marks being deducted?

A:         No such date exist, unless you have a valid reason – illness, met with a horrible accident, or death in the family.  A letter must accompany the late submission.


Q:        How many marks will be deducted for late submission?

A:         Please refer to the module document or assignment specification.

            (To avoid dispute, lecturer should state this clearly in the module handbook/document or assignment specification)


Q:        Can I submit a handwritten work?

A:         No.  It must be word processed.


Q:        Should I bind the report?

A:         Yes.


Q:        Should I add in a title page and contents page?

A:         Yes.


Q:        Is page numbering necessary?

A:         Yes.


Q:        Do I need to add the list of references?

A:         Yes, please use a proper referencing method, such as, Harvard Referencing.


Q:        Can I just submit the soft copy without the hard copy?

A:         No.


Q:        Can you please print the report for me?

A:         No.



Responsibilities of a Lecturer

Posted in Roles and Responsibilities at 7:50 am by drzabokia

  (This article is written in the context of Malaysian Private Colleges.) 

Let’s start with the definition of the word lecturer by considering the word lecture. 

The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines lecture as, 

“A talk giving information about a subject to an audience or a class, often as part of a teaching programme.” 

So, a lecturer is a person who delivers lectures, especially at a college or university. 

Now, what about the word teach? 

From the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, teach means,

“to show somebody to do something so that they will be able to do it themselves.” 

Do lecturers teach?  The answer is definitely yes. 

The primary role of a lecturer is to educate.  However, a lecturer in Malaysian private colleges often wears many hats.  Lecturers also play the roles as tutors, teachers, administrators and counsellors.  Some lecturers may even need to be involved in marketing activities.  In Universities, the role of a lecturer is better defined. 

As a lecturer, these are the normal tasks: 

i)                  First and foremost – lecture

ii)                Prepare teaching materials – i.e. slides (if applicable) and handouts for students

iii)             Set and mark assignments and examination papers 

I feel that to be an all-rounded lecturer, the role is more than just giving a talk about a subject or setting and marking students’ work. 

What are other roles do lecturer play these days? 


A lecturer should also provide pastoral care to their students.  Some students may be under tremendous pressure – family problems, boy-girl relationship issues, peer pressure, financial difficulties, etc.  Most may not be able to cope well.  When a student seems unmotivated and his/her attendance starts to dwindle, it’s advisable to counsel the student.   

Well, there are lecturers who disagree saying, “I’m just a lecturer.  Why should I handle such cases?  Isn’t this the job of the Counsellor?” 

Outside the home, and besides friends, I think lecturers have the most contact time with the student.  In some cases, the lecturer may even know more about the student than their own parents.  So, lecturers certainly do have the ability and capacity to perform this task. 

During a counseling session, a lecturer could also get feedback from the students on the course or subject matter.  This may be helpful to the lecturer to improve certain areas related to his/her teaching. 

It is a good practice to document the counseling sessions with the students.  This will enable the team to monitor the progress of the students, and provide feedback to their guardian if required. 

Generally, it is important to maintain a good communication with the students, of course, within a healthy boundary.  


What administration jobs do lecturers handle?

Lots of documentation is involved when it comes to quality assurance procedures.  This includes preparing teaching and assignment schedule, minutes of meeting, weekly reports on teaching, and student feedback on assignment.  

Marketing Activities

Some of you may be puzzled – why are lecturers involved in marketing activities?


  • Lecturers know the course content better.  Hence, can give better advice or information.
  • There is a need to have more staff to counsel potential students during education fairs.

 The tasks may include the following:

  • Participate in education fairs and road shows
  • Present career talks in Secondary Schools
  • Prepare Counselling Kit to promote programmes
  • Counsel potential students during Open Day
  • Conduct workshops

List of other tasks:

  • Research and Development
  • Publications
  • Graduation planning
  • Entertaining visiting lecturers
  • Participating in extra curricular activities like clubs or societies.


Ultimately, what am I trying to point out?

If you want to venture into the education line as a lecturer, be aware of the responsibilities outside the scope of a lecturer.  Be prepared to take up additional roles.  Think and accept it positively as a path to career development. 

Do not think that lecturers have an easy life.  We play a vital role in forming and shaping future leaders.  

August 17, 2007

Preparing and delivering a mock lecture

Posted in Fresh Graduate at 6:13 am by drzabokia


Selecting the topic

Select a topic that you are most familiar with.  Most applicants usually present a research topic from either their Masters or PhD programme.  I would not recommend this because the contents may be too overwhelming.  Bear in mind that the audience may not have any technical background at all.  Administrators may be part of the audience to assess the presentation.  So keep the topic simple.   

It is advisable to relate the topic to the position that you are applying for.  For example, if you are applying for the position lecturer in IT, you should select a topic in that field, and not something like Business Law. 

Remember that the main purpose of the mock lecture is to assess your presentation skills.  Select a topic that best projects your ability. 

Some examples:

1)     Solving a programming/mathematical problem

2)     Presenting a business plan

3)     Presenting a case study  

Preparing the contents

Start with an outline – introduction, main body and summary/conclusion.  

Preparing the slides

If you plan to use the overheard or multimedia projector, prepare about 8 – 10 slides for a 10 – 15 minutes presentation.

Do layout the points with short sentences.  You should just highlight the main points instead of displaying a long paragraph.

Where possible, use diagrams/illustrations to explain.  


Rehearse, and time yourself.   


Be confident and look confident

This is an important criterion because it will show that you understand the topic well.  It is an assurance to your audience (especially your future students) that you know what you are teaching.  So, look at the audience and project your voice clearly. 

Using teaching aids/equipment

Before the interview, check the availability of equipment or teaching aids.  Inform the interviewer what you need for the presentation. 

  • Whiteboard
    • Make sure that your writing is legible.
    • Utilise the space properly by dividing it into separate sections.
    • Please clean the whiteboard at the end of the presentation.

  • Overheard/Multimedia Projector
    • Make sure that your body does not hide the screen.
    • Use an infrared or laser pointer if available.

Face the audience

Body language and eye contact is important.  I find it rather annoying when the back of the presenter is facing the audience most of the time.  So, please do not read from the slides or your notes.  

Connect with the audience

Prompt them for any questions.  Check whether the pace is okay with them.  

Be mindful of the time limit

A couple of times, I had to stop the presenter, and ask him/her to summarise and end.  A presentation of 10 to 15 minutes is sufficient to gauge your presentation and communication skills.  

All the best to you! 

August 16, 2007

Fresh graduate with no lecturing experience

Posted in Fresh Graduate at 4:34 am by drzabokia

You have just graduated from your first degree, and you are keen to pursue a career as a lecturer.  However, you have no prior teaching or lecturing experience.  You may have provided private tuition classes in the past or have worked as a tutor in your institution.


What are your chances of landing the lecturing position?

Once you are short listed for an interview, it means that your qualification meets their basic requirements.  The institution needs you.


As a lecturer, one of most important skills required is presentation skills.  Nowadays, in an interview for a lecturing post, the applicant is requested to present a mock lecture of 10 to 15 minutes. 

You may be assessed based on the following:

  • Structure of presentation – introduction and summary
  • Use of teaching aids – projector, whiteboard
  • Content – use of text and illustrations
  • Voice intonation – strong, clear
  • Knowledge of the topic
  • Body language – proper eye contact
  • Confidence Level

(More details on the mock lecture in the next post.)


The institution is impressed by your presentation and you got the job.  What’s next?


Depending on the timing, you may be required to start lecturing on the first or second day at work.  Some maybe be one week later or even one month later.  The timing here depends on whether you are hired as an immediate replacement or for a new coming intake/enrollment which commences later.


Where to get help? 

A young lecturer was once asked how she picked up her lecturing skills.  Her answer was, “I learned from my previous lecturers in the University.”  She has learned through observations, and adopted practices that she thought were good and useful in her classes.  It seems like a smart thing to do since she had no experience at all in lecturing.  To me, it’s a good start.


Some institutions may have a mentoring system in place.   Newly recruited lecturers were assigned to a mentor – for example, a senior lecturer.  The senior lecturer is responsible in guiding the new lecturer in preparing and delivering his/her lectures.  The new lecturer may also enter a class and observe.  Both lecturers can then exchange notes on the delivery.


Most of the time, you may be left on your own.  Well, you are expected to be independent.  The best resource is definitely the Web.  It can give you a head start in preparing your teaching materials if none available.  But be careful to make proper referencing.


Final advice, as a fresh graduate, be FAT – Flexible, Adaptable and Teachable.


Coming posts:

  • Preparing and delivering mock lecture
  • Preparing teaching materials
  • Delivering a lecture
  • Conducting a tutorial
  • Setting assignment and examination questions
  • Marking assignment and examination papers


Hello world!

Posted in Welcome at 3:04 am by drzabokia

Welcome to DrZabokia.