Teaching of Philosophy and the Main Objectives of the Plan

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I believe that I have effective teacher quality such as being enthusiastic, passionate, approachable, listener, curious, having common sense, eager to learn and keep up to date in the latest research advances in field of genetics and plant breeding research. I am creative and very well organized, client focused and excellent team spirit. My teaching experience was dynamic, interactive and I used to involve every person in the class. The first week of class was always a learning experience for both students and me. During this first week, I try to know each of my students by giving them name tags to wear during the first classes and by doing icebreakers so that we can all meet each other. I would set the expectations of the course in a detailed syllabus, go over the textbook and methodology of the class. Since the beginning I seek to make the value of the course I am teaching explicit and throughout the course take time to help students understand why and what they are learning is important.

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My experience on teaching and enhancing capacity building of NARS partners overs years have been an exciting time. I have supervised many PhD graduates and Master students conducted research on different aspects on legume breeding during my current work at the International center for agricultural research in Dry Areas and providing practical session as Oral presentations at grower meetings and field days. The fields days and oral presentations to growers must transfer clear message about the technologies developed to ensure learning of good agriculture practices and the way increase in their revenues.

My objectives as professor assistant on plant breeder is to provide students, and different stakeholders knowledge on traditional and advances biotechnological tools on plant breeding in order to acquire appropriate knowledge that help them improve the quality and sustainability (both environmental and economic) of life on Earth by developing plants that fit better into the natural world and produce more with less. Modernizing plant breeding programs in the world required appropriate knowledge and novel techniques that needs to be passed to young generate to build on and contribute to accelerate genetic gains. Produce more with less is required to feed the future with less inputs. This is not a task that any individual can undertake alone or that will ever be finished, as new challenges and opportunities constantly arise.

To achieve my objectives as professor on plant breeding, I seek to solve problems related with both education and agriculture. I want to enhance and promote collaborations with scientists in different disciplines working in improving the crop production. I want to be a communicator not only of science itself but also of enthusiasm for it to diverse audiences, including farmers. I want to foment collaborations between universities and schools to increase student’s motivation and interest towards careers in science.

The goals of  are best summarized in the learning objective topics of the syllabus:

  • There is a need to provide basic information on genetics and breeding and engaged the students in tutorials to enhance thinking and analysis. My teaching philosophy is reflected in these learning objectives as the number relating to teaching ‘knowledge’ per se is small. I want students to learn how to think independently, to ask good questions – and question everything, to be lifelong learners, to be able to deal with complexity, to work well with others of diverse backgrounds, to communicate well, and to be exemplary professionals in their field. This is in the context of the latest technologies, techniques and scientific findings that link the two often disparate disciplines of plant breeding and molecular quantitative genetics
  • We have to let the student to be creative by engage them in programs where they develop themselves the lectures to enhance their professionalism and leadership. My role here is to direct them and correct the brief and provide critical analysis to their reports and presentations. I do believe that students often learn more from their peers than from their teachers based on my past experience on teaching. I believe it is the teacher’s job to help and facilitate peer to peer interaction, especially with introverted students. It is for that reason I strongly encourage group projects, and difficult homework that requires group interaction to complete rather than individual tests. Although I believe that I am effective in the classroom as a teacher, I feel I am even more effective when students can informally ask questions and I can interact with them on a one by one basis. I interact with students on an individual basis in my official teaching role as an advisor at the graduate level (my own students, committee students) and at the undergraduate level (student workers and interns in both my own and my colleagues’ programs).
  • Science/ knowledge: Some of the challenges of teaching a class in plant breeding and genetic sciences is to help students learn complex processes, help them become familiarized with the extent vocabulary and make them aware of the importance of integrating concepts of estimating genetic gains, breeding methods, speed breeding importance, statisitical analysis. To alleviate these challenges, I seek to break important processes into pieces and put them together in a way that makes sense to them/. Furthermore, I want to do different activities that would help students become familiarized with the vocabulary and with the importance of integrating concepts in other areas to solve or better understand biological phenomena. Because of the challenges that students may face it will be important to make students feel that there is a reasonable possibility of success by providing access to tutors and being available through office hours. I will take time to go over student’s quizzes, exams and assignments to provide them constructive feedback. For example, find what questions the majority of students failed to respond? What were some common misconceptions? Take time to go over these concepts again. I believe that if students dedicate some time every day to their class then they will not have to invest a significant amount of time one day before the exam. I want to emphasize this point and work with my students to teach them to be organized and keep themselves up to date. I want to do activities that require teamwork but at the same time where each individual carries a different responsibility. I know teams can sometimes be a challenge but in life we accomplish things by working as teams and I believe that it is something students should learn how to do. I want students to become self-strategic learners, to arrive to class prepared with questions and that the lecture I would be giving would serve as a review instead of an eye opener. During my class period I want to set aside a time for activities that would provide me with some feedback regarding whether the students are following the contents of the class and also to give the applied side perspective of the topics they are learning. It is important to always remind students of the big picture. I have had the opportunity of teaching lecture classes as well as laboratory sections at lebanese university and saint joseph university and also during my work at ICARDA I have the oprotunity to direct PhD and Master students from diverse Universities (University of Cordoba, Khartoum University, Tishreen Univerisity, Lebanese Univeristy and Saint Joseph University) as well as train many NARS partners. To accomplish my teaching goals successfully I have used different teaching methods including, PowerPoint presentations, paper discussions, hands-on activities, think-pair-share and different activities that used writing to enhance learning. In all my classes (independently of the course subject) students were assigned a project to present at the end of the semester where they were required to integrate the different learning objectives of the course.

In addition, my main objective as a plant breeder is to improve the quality and sustainability (both environmental and economic) of life on Earth. The world population will grow by 2050 to 9.2 billion (growth of 37%), and food production must increase by 60% to meet this demand. Food production must increase by more than 60% and there is triple burden of malnutrition (Food insecurity, undernutrition and obesity) in addition to food reduction by 25% due to climatic changes. The breeding efforts using traditional methods has low genetic gains as to replace one variety there is a need of twelve years at least. By modernizing breeding program, we should be able to reduce the breeding cycle, increase the accuracy and selection intensity. My philosophy is based on my large practical knowledge on agriculture research. There is a need to effectively discard the inferior genotypes from any breeding program as soon as possible so we can effectively devote your precious resources to the most promising genotypes. Simply there is a need to advance the best lines and discard the inferior genotypes. A majority of my current research must focus on projects with short deliverables to improve systems that currently exist and allow graduate students to complete them. These projects can be divided into two main areas: 1) applied plant breeding, and 2) development of new technologies and innovations that assist cultivar improvement. In plant breeding, the end goal is to improve a cultivar which can be planted and grown adding value to a grower or to society.   

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