Yongmei Huang

Associate Research Scientist, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Columbia University Medical Center

Yongmei Huang shares her experience with online teaching during the pandemic.

The SAS (Statistical Analysis System) Insight for CEOR (Comparative Effectiveness and Outcomes Research) is an introductory class designed for students in the CEOR certificate program at the Mailman School of Public Health. It is a credential program provided by the Department of Health Policy Management. In this course, students learn how to use SAS as an analytic tool to create a SAS dataset, perform basic data management, manipulate and analyze large-scale healthcare data. Students also learn to explain and apply multivariable regression model building and propensity score calculation. 

Last fall, teaching hands-on practice classes in the virtual classroom was pretty challenging. I designed a pre-class survey and a mid-term evaluation to learn about students’ data analysis background, their professional goals, their learning needs, any barrier stopping them from taking online classes, and their thoughts on course materials and suggestions on my teaching style.  Using the feedback from the surveys, I revised some course content to meet students’ diverse needs and adopted a student-centered teaching style. For example, to facilitate the interaction between instructor and students, on top of two fixed office hours each week, I also provided the flexibility for students to set up extra office hours at their convenience. Students sent me emails to schedule the office hours, and I usually put a few students at the same session, so they had the opportunity to also learn from their peers. 

I created a SAS handbook, incorporated links to useful resources on the SAS community website, and provided optional reading resources to students eager to learn beyond the curriculum. In the SAS lab, I simulated some errors in the SAS program and demonstrated how to read error messages in the SAS Log window and find solutions for trouble-shooting. These handy tips are pretty popular among students. 

Students were under many different stresses and pressures in the pandemic, including taking care of their family members. Being patient, positive, and empathetic to students’ situations and providing emotional support was key to maintaining a cordial instructor-student relationship.  Yes, I smiled and smiled a lot with students together. I enjoyed being with them.

Tell your story. Learn from others.

What is it like to teach and learn at Columbia in 2020-2021? Share your hybrid/HyFlex or online teaching and learning experience.