New Professor Talks About the Differences Between the American and Chinese Schools

By Taylor McKelvey

“Students don’t ask questions,” said the new assistant professor of math and computer science, Jingnan Xie, when explaining the differences between the American and Chinese school systems.

In China, students just listen, there is no discussion based courses, just lectures. Xie said that this is because the class sizes in China are around 200 students for a typical college or university.

To get accepted into a college or university high school students are required to take a province wide test, very similar to the SATs. Also, this test is only held once a year, and different provinces require different scores, and these exams are free across China.

Xie also mentioned that in China, there are no teacher assistants and that professors do not have office hours. He spoke of a time where he had witnessed several students lined up, outside of a professor’s office, trying to get a minute of their time.

According to Xie, another major difference between the two countries education systems is that when he was a student in college, all his classes were 90 minutes long, and that none were 55-minute classes. Also, that all his courses were held five days a week, not three or two, which is normal for several students.

Before accepting the position at Thiel College, as a computer science professor, Xie studied and taught at the University of Albany, in New York City.  Before studying at Albany, he earned his undergraduate degree in China.

After accepting his position at Thiel College, Xie moved to Greenville, Pa. He said that even though he does not know many people yet, he lives practically next store to one of the other professors in the Math/Computer Science department.

Xie loves the feeling of living in a small community. He also really appreciates being able to learn and remember every students name, because in China that was not possible. He said that at Thiel College his largest class is 25 students, and that he really likes this smallness.

Since moving to the United States of America, he said he has only been back to China once. This one time, was to visit his mother and father. In Greenville, he lives alone, thus, not married and does not have any children.

While speaking of his family, he touched on the subject about how in China families were only allowed to have one child. He said that even though he lives in America, he still will only ever have one child. He said that he will only have one child because “he could never love more than one child, there is always a favorite.”

Xie have several goals in mind, while teaching at Thiel College. He wishes to publish papers based off his current research. His current research is studying how language is inputted in computers, and example is “Siri.”

He also said that he would like to enhance his teaching skills, and someday teach in Japan.

Lastly, he wants to create a master’s program in the field of Computer Science at Thiel College.

During this semester, Xie’s favorite course is “Principles of Computer Science.” He said that he does not actively use textbooks in class, but uses them privately to prepare for class. Also, all his courses are held in the Academic Center, and currently he only teaches Computer Science courses. He hopes that someday he will be able to teach some math courses.

He has some experience with teaching math, and would love to be able to do that at Thiel.

Categories: Academics, Featured, Student Life

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