Upgrading instructor helps students achieve goals

Photo of Cornelia Chang.

Cornelia Chang enjoys being on her students’ side, helping them to succeed in their learning and career goals.

Interested in Academic Upgrading?


One thing that instructor Cornelia Chang loves about the students she teaches in Mount Royal University’s academic upgrading classes is their positive attitudes toward learning.

Part of that may be due to Chang’s teaching excellence — she has twice been nominated for, and once awarded, a Distinguished Teaching Award at MRU.

Chang attributes the students’ belief in the value of education to the fact that they have chosen to be in the class and know why they are there. A number have been out of high school for a few years and have decided to change careers, or have made a decision on a different path they want to pursue.

Most of the students in her Biology 0130 and Chemistry 0115 classes are working towards gaining entrance to a chosen post-secondary program. Many are hoping to enter specialized fields in health care such as midwifery or nursing, while others are aiming for kinesiology, environmental science and other fields. Still others need to achieve a good science mark to enter a non-science based program, such as business.

Chang loves sharing her passion for biology with her students.

"I want to help them to do their best and acquire the skills to achieve their goals. Learning how to learn and helping students towards their academic goals is the most important part of my job."

Cornelia Chang

“Mount Royal is still small, even though it is now a university,” Chang says. “As a result, there is an opportunity to connect with students on an individual basis.

“I have been asked why I don’t get bored teaching the same subjects over and over again,” she says. “But for me, it’s not about teaching the subject matter, but about the interaction with the students. I love when they ‘get it’, sometimes for the first time.

“I want to help them to do their best and acquire the skills to achieve their goals. Learning how to learn is the most important part of my job.”

Chang wants to ensure her students know whether or not they understand the material as they progress through her courses. One method for providing immediate feedback is through the use of “student response systems” such as Kahoot or Socrative. During a class, Chang puts a question up on the screen and the students answer using the apps on their mobiles or other connected devices. This allows her to gauge whether the majority of the class is understanding a concept or if additional explanation is needed. Students can also participate without any concern about being singled out if they get a question wrong.

Blackboard, Mount Royal’s learning management system, is another valuable tool. “Blackboard is a way to easily disseminate everything from class notes to lab assignments out to the students,” Chang says. “Many people are used to accessing information online nowadays, and with the pandemic the need for online accessibility is even more crucial.”

Her courses are designed to prepare students for higher levels of learning, Chang says. “While there is curriculum overlap between Biology 30 and Biology 0130, they are not identical courses. In addition to covering core biology concepts, we really work hard to help students develop the work habits and study skills for higher-level biology courses.”

Chang enjoys being on her students’ sides, helping them to succeed in their learning and career goals. “There’s no other job I’d rather be doing,” she says.

Find out more at mru.ca/AcademicUpgrading.

Aug. 31, 2020