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Yu Xinjie, professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering, Tsinghua University (THU).

In December 2016, General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out at the National Conference on Ideological & Political Work in Colleges and universities that ideological and political theory course should be strengthened in the process of improvement, so as to enhance the affinity and pertinence of ideological and political education, and meet the needs and expectations of students' growth and development. He added the teachers of other courses should also work scrupulously to fulfill duties, so that the education of other courses can keep a coordinating one with the ideological and political theory for a synergistic effect. The ideological and political theories teaching in all courses (IPTTC) is increasingly valued. At the national education conference in September 2018 and the symposium for teachers of ideological and political theory in schools at all levels in March 2019, Xi further elaborated on the IPTTC. The clear requirements have been put forward for the IPTTC in the process of the construction and evaluation of national top-quality open online courses and Golden Courses organized by the Ministry of Education (MOE); schools in various regions have also added requirements on the IPTTC in teaching achievement awards, teaching masters selection and even teachers' daily teaching portfolio. Therefore, to carry out the IPTTC education in the science and engineering core courses is not a question of whether to do it or not, but how to do it well.

For all this, when the teachers of science and engineering core courses communicated with me, I found that there were still many misunderstandings about the necessity and methods of the IPTTC construction. Based on the thinking and measures in my daily teaching, here I propose some views on the IPTTC education in the science and engineering core courses, and share some methods in this paper.

I. Some misunderstandings on ideological and political theories teaching in all courses (IPTTC)

First of all, let's analyze some common mistakes or one-sided views on the IPTTC in science & engineering core course teachers.

Viewpoint 1 (false): It is assumed falsely that there is no time for the IPTTC as too many teaching contents are designed in the core courses of science and engineering. The science and engineering core courses are often the significant courses in the undergraduate training programs, which are large in quantity, wide in scope and rich in teaching contents. There is a larger capacity of teaching classes in most colleges and universities. The degree of students' mastery of these courses directly or indirectly determines the smooth degree of their learning follow-up professional courses and even carrying out graduate thesis work. Therefore, the core course teachers sometimes say, "I have no time to do the IPTTC."

Viewpoint 2 (false): It is falsely assumed that the IPTTC is difficultly carried out in such core courses as circuit principle. Taking the circuit principle taught by me as an example, most of the knowledge points of this course were discovered or invented by western scientists or engineers from about 100 years ago; the theoretical system of the whole course was basically mature 50 years ago; its content is more logic and reasoning as a whole. The most common teaching activities in the course of circuit principle are to give definitions, state theorems, prove theorems, and apply methods to solve problems. Many teachers think that in these hardcore teaching activities, it is difficult to carry out the IPTTC in a harmonious way.

Viewpoint 3 (false): It is falsely assumed that both specialized courses and IPTTC should be carried out in their respective roles, where many teachers still believe that is right, that is, specialized courses and ideological and political education should perform their respective duties. This wrong view is normalized as follows: in a school, the special courses involving their contents and intellectual education should be in the charge of teachers under the management of the academic affairs department; accordingly, the IPTTC involving ideological management and moral education should be in the charge of political instructors under the management of student affairs office in a school. Some teachers even mentioned that if we want to train socialist builders and successors who can develop morally, intellectually, physically, aesthetically and laboriously in an all-round way, we need to set up different types of courses and train them separately in different links.

Viewpoint 4 (false): Assuming falsely that it is difficult to get rid of the stereotype of dichotomy in the IPTTC. Some teachers are worried that due to the stereotype of the IPTTC, the bad specific form of expression is to give ideological and political education mechanically that is divorced from reality in class, and then to teach the specific contents. That is to say, the IPTTC becomes unrealistic with the dichotomy between contents and ideological and political education.

Viewpoint 5 (one-sided): It is assumed one-sidedly that the IPTTC is the ideological and political education in classrooms (IPEC). For the teachers who recognize the concept of IPTTC, they often have some incomplete and inaccurate understanding in practice. For example, some teachers think that IPTTC is the IPEC, and teachers only need to carry out ideological and political education in the classrooms with some course contents, so as to achieve the IPTTC.

Viewpoint 6 (one-sided): It is assumed one-sidedly that the IPTTC is a patriotism education combined with cases. Some teachers are keen on collecting all kinds of "verbal tricks" to carry out ideological and political education in their own teaching, that is to say, in the minds of these teachers, they can complete the IPTTC task by saying the words with ideological and political education meaning designed in advance in a number of typical cases of the course.

Viewpoint 7 (one-sidedly): It is assumed one-sidedly that expounding reflections on life in class is the IPTTC. Some teachers interpret the IPTTC as a collection of chicken soup, taking for granted that the IPEC is defined as an idea that positive energy viewpoints are conveyed to the students at the beginning and end of the classroom or combined with the corresponding teaching contents.

The above views are either wrong or incomplete and inaccurate. Core courses play a very important role in talent training. Therefore, the IPTTC of higher education can not really be implemented if the teachers of science-engineering core courses can not well understand and realize the IPTTC. It can be said that this is the toughest issue in the IPTTC construction.

In my opinion, the teachers of science and engineering core courses have misunderstandings on IPTTC largely because the young teachers in colleges and universities have received teaching trainings mostly at a teaching skill level for a long term; the teaching method is excessively stressed in these teaching trainings. On the level of the Tao (moral education), i.e. the concept of education and teaching, it is taught either too high-end, classy to be implemented in teaching, or only a few words without in-depth discussion combined with the actual specialized courses. Moreover, even at the teaching skill level, the current main training idea is still to improve the teaching skills of young teachers. By this, they have the ability to explain the more difficult knowledge in the classroom in an easy-to-understand way, so that students can learn the knowledge by listening attentively and taking notes carefully in the classroom. If we taught 20 years ago, this kind of teacher training idea was completely correct, because if students wanted to learn a course, they could only nibble at relatively difficult teaching materials by themselves in addition to coming to the classroom to listen. For most students, it was time-consuming, laborious and difficult to grasp the key points. In other words, teachers were a "single source" of "high-quality" education resources providers for students in the traditional sense. Teachers needed to make clear what they wanted to say and what should be said in the classroom so that most students could understand it. As a matter of fact, there are more and more contents to be talked about with the rapid development of science and technology. Therefore, teachers often complain that class hours are not enough, let alone take time to do the IPTTC.

II. Full understandings on the necessity of carrying out the IPTTC education

Then, how to understand the IPTTC? Why the teachers of science and engineering core courses should actively carry out the IPTTC? I think there are objective and subjective reasons for why.

Objectively speaking, first of all, quality education resources are (or will be) not scarce any more. With the construction of top-quality open courses, top-quality open online courses and Golden Courses promoted vigorously by the Ministry of Education (MOE) during the 12th and 13th Five Year Plans, the whole society can obtain a large number of sound course resources from elite schools and top teachers for free. According to the data provided by the MOE in July 2019, more than 12,000 MOOCS have been opened on various platforms nationwide, and the number of courses offered by a comprehensive university each semester is only a few thousand. Secondly, the mobile Internet has been the main channel for the vast majority of people to communicate, and mobile phones are becoming an indispensable tool for everyone. It has become a fact that students come to class with mobile phones. Thirdly, the cognitive characteristics of the students born after 1995 and 2000 are that their ability and willingness to acquire knowledge are significantly enhanced, and their habit of information acquisition is becoming more and more fragmented. According to the MOE’s statistics, the total number of learners in each MOOC platform has exceeded 120 million. In many schools, students are beginning to listen to the teacher's lectures in class and watch the corresponding MOOCS videos taught by other teachers with mobile phones or laptops. The above three characteristics have brought challenges to the classroom teaching method with knowledge transfer as a main form. Generally speaking, in the era when students can learn noted teachers and top courses by lying in bed with mobile phones, the single-source and high-quality attributes of teachers emphasized above have ceased to exist or are greatly reduced. It is no longer the only important thing to tell the knowledge correctly in the classroom.

From the subjective point of view, teachers need to complete their basic task from imparting knowledge to cultivating talents (students educating). The primary academic responsibility of university teachers is to educate students, and both course teaching and classroom lecturing are very important links in the whole education process at all respects by all staff in a school. There are many brilliant expositions of the sages in the discussion of the dialectical relationship between knowledge and quality. For example, Zhang Mingtao, the former head of Department of Electrical Engineering, Tsinghua University, once said to the young students who are newly enrolled, "when coming to Tsinghua University, you should not only learn how to learn, but also how to conduct yourself. Young people should first learn to conduct well, and then learn to learn. No matter how good you are in learning, you may become a black sheep. To learn how to conduct oneself well, the first thing is to be a Chinese of character.” This view was once again emphasized by Zhu Rongji, a graduate of 1951, in his congratulatory letter to the 60th anniversary of the founding of Department of Electrical Engineering. Since then, Being Strict in Learning and Being Upright in Conducts has gradually become the motto of Department of Electrical Engineering, Tsinghua University. It complements the THU motto of Self-Discipline and Social Commitment. In addition, Tsinghua University summed up a talent training mode in the 24th education work seminar, that is, a trinity of value building, ability training and knowledge transfer, which was deeply implemented in the 25th education work seminar. The above-mentioned concepts of “people educating in whole education process at all respects by all staff”, “learn how to learn and conduct”, and “the mode of trinity” reveal from different sides that the students educating should be the main value and responsibility of science and engineering core course teachers, which is reflected in the realization of students’ value shaping of through the teaching activities of knowledge transfer and ability cultivation.

Combining above subjective and objective factors, we can see that if the core course teachers can actively use high-quality online learning resources, carry out hybrid teaching, strengthen interaction with students in class and after class, timely discover their learning bottlenecks, share their learning insights, and solve their learning puzzles, they can change the teaching situation from passive to active, to regain students' understanding of the course and classroom teaching; on the other hand, they can also complete the value shaping and IPTTC which has no time to be carried out. In other words, hybrid teaching and IPTTC both are educational and teaching reforms that teachers must actively carry out in the mobile Internet era when high-quality educational resources are no longer scarce.

III. Practices of the IPTTC from different perspectives

Next, based on my teaching practices in the Circuit Principle course, I will talk about how to realize the ideological and political theories teaching in all courses (IPTTC), which is embodied in fostering students’ virtue through education and value building, as well as ability training and knowledge teaching in the science and engineering core courses.

1.Fostering virtue through education (FVE) in the science and engineering core courses

Maybe some readers may ask if the FVE is related to the circuit principle? As for the specific circuit analysis method, it seems to have nothing to do with the FVE. However, the speech and conducts of circuit course teachers have played a very important role in the FVE for students. This role may be more important than the painstaking and eloquent voice and emotion of the ideological and political course teachers. For example, as college teachers in China, we should always adhere to the principle of having no forbidden zone for academic research, observing disciplines in teachers’ classroom teaching, and holding fast to educating bottom line for teachers’ speech and behaviors, so as to avoid transmitting negative energy in the classroom. There is no doubt that this is a good way to foster virtue through education.

Beyond that, teachers' attitude towards teaching / courses / classroom is not only the imperceptible IPTTC but also the most direct IPTTC. For example, how many minutes ahead will the teacher come to the classroom for preparations before class? Will he extend the class hour if the teaching task can't be finished? Does he not to change class time anyway? Will he let the teaching assistant give a class in place of him? How long does he prepare his lesson for each class? Does he have clear criticisms to students who are late? How to treat the students' demand of answering questions in the way of network after class? How to give suggestions to students in personalized development? How to give formative teaching evaluation to students? How to set up the mid-term and final examination questions to ensure that students who have obtained the previous examination papers will not gain more extra advantage of marks than those who have not received the papers but have carefully reviewed their schoolwork? These questions are not only the basic ones about how a course works, but also the answers to these questions determine the lower bound of the quality of a course. For the understanding and measures of how to keep the lower bound of course quality, see Yu Xinjie: Two bounds in first-rate courses (China University Teaching, No. 3, 2019).

I have heard many teachers said that students' bad learning style prevails currently, and their learning initiative is even worse. I can not fully agree with that. It is true that the aborigines (students) in the mobile Internet era have different understanding of courses in comparison to the students from 20 years ago. But for the learning style, I think first it involves the teaching style; and then teachers’ attitude to courses will affect the students' attitude towards the courses. As to the learning initiative, I think the first issue is teachers’ teaching initiative. Whether teachers can actively carry out teaching research will affect students to or not to conduct active and deep learning. There are a lot of contents that are worth discussing in depth in this respect, but I haven’t the space to mention them here. So only one point is emphasized here, that is, under the background that the whole social environment is increasingly pursuing the maximization of short-term interests, and in the overall academic environment of emphasizing scientific research and neglecting teaching, is it reflected in teachers’ enough reverence for courses whether they can carry out fostering students’ virtue through education? Does the teacher think from the heart that the course is supreme? As a matter of fact, the biggest gain of students in learning a certain course is not the knowledge, but how the academic model in their mind treats the classroom teaching to some extend! Therefore, I said as alluded to above that this is a most direct ideological and political theories teaching in all courses (IPTTC).

2. Value building in the science and engineering core courses

Like many other core courses of science and engineering, the circuit principle deals with vast majority of knowledge points created by the western scholars. This seems to be detrimental to our IPTTC. However, great progress has been made in national economic and social development since 40 years of reform and opening up. Many powerful cutting-edge tools have emerged in all walks of life. So there are still many things to be told to our students. Teachers can well tell Chinese stories based on specific teaching contents, and find out the contribution of scientific and technological progress in ancient or contemporary China to current teaching contents. For example, China's power system has made eye-catching achievements in recent decades (since 2004, China's annual newly-increased installed capacity is more than the whole installed capacity of the UK); the voltage stability control algorithm for power system developed by the Department of Electrical Engineering of Tsinghua University entered the central control room of PJM power grid in the United States. These cases should be all good materials in the IPTTC.

Of course, value building can be carried out from a broader global perspective. On the one hand, the value building can be available by looking back the process of major sci-tech innovations at home and abroad with a combination with corresponding teaching contents. For instance, it is advisable in classes to review the process of defining phasor to stimulate students' innovative consciousness, and introduce the demonstration process of China's 1000kV EHV AC transmission project. By this, students' practical and realistic learning style can be well built. On the other hand, we can also teach some cases about the anomies of major academic work or misjudgment of scientific and technological development at home and abroad in combination with corresponding teaching contents. For example, in order to promote the DC system, Edison artificially created the illusion that the AC system was more dangerous as he used AC current to electrocute an elephant in public places 120 years ago.

In addition, we may simulate the scenes that students are familiar with in combination with specific physical concepts. For example, both active power and reactive powers in sinusoidal steady-state circuit are a pair of complementary concepts. Of course, we could explore the relationship and difference between active and reactive powers from the physical and mathematical aspects, but we also compared human the intelligence quotient (IQ) to active power and the emotional quotient (EQ) to reactive power. In the man-made physical system, most of the devices that could output active power need to absorb or emit reactive power. In other words, without reactive power, the vast majority of devices could not do external work. It's just like that most people can't show high IQ without enough EQ. With such examples, students could find everything fresh and new, and have a clearer understanding of the concepts of physics; on the other hand, students also received moral education unconsciously.

3. Ability training and knowledge imparting simultaneously in the science and engineering core courses

Both course system and teaching content are relatively mature and stable in the circuit principle as a core course. That doesn’t seem to be good for the IPTTC. However, we can make it if we can integrate hybrid teaching and IPTTC.

First of all, for many key and difficult teaching contents, the straightforward teaching method can be transformed into the heuristic teaching method of historical scene reproduction under the mixed teaching mode. For example, in the course of circuit principle, our teaching team gave up the God’s perspective but used such intelligent teaching tools as rain classroom for the following teaching contents: definition of Thevenin theorem, solution of the second-order circuit, definition of decibel, presentation of general resonant frequency characteristics, influence of MOSFET parasitic capacitance on square wave generator and small signal amplifier, the relationship between low-pass filter and integrator, the relationship between transformer ratio and turns, etc. Moreover, we realized strong interaction among students in large-scale classes by bringing students to specific historical scenes, and organizing them to put forward these concepts or summarize corresponding rules by themselves (or with their peers) in combination with what they had learned before. By this way, they could achieve the most critical one foot in the door for academic breakthrough like the sages. This kind of teaching method effectively cultivated students' ability and imparted knowledge at the same time. This undoubtedly stimulated the students' exploring spirit and naturally implemented the construction of learning style. Although the knowledge points discussed in this way are different for courses, and the intelligent teaching tools may be different, they have common characteristics in guiding students, that is, more question marks and ellipsis rather than full stop and exclamation point are used in the teaching process and courseware.

Secondly, teachers should try to reasonably show the scientific research achievements of individuals or teams in teaching content. For example, in the course of teaching circuit principle, I taught the basic teaching contents of circuit principle such as resonance, transformer, and second-order circuit. Besides that, I also introduced my research results (wireless power transmission, magnetoelectric laminated composite materials for current detection, and inductive energy storage pulse power module) of three NSFCs and four weaponry projects. In my opinion, the key to be an excellent teacher is to have teaching skills and realize the Tao (moral education). Excellent teachers not only need to master teaching skills and be familiar with teaching methods, but also have their own understanding and apperception of education and teaching. Furthermore, if you want to be an excellent teacher, the key point (or restriction point) is to carry out high-level scientific researches for a long time and take the initiative to transform the research results into teaching contents. According to my experience, students could show a high degree of concern when they heard a teacher telling how to use basic concepts and analysis methods to solve academic problems in scientific research projects and make scientific research breakthroughs. When listening to the teacher's lecture on how to apply basic knowledge to make academic breakthroughs, students were actually experiencing and learning how to do scientific research. The cases like the above should be the best materials for the IPTTC.

In addition, some links or processes should be employed as much as possible to design some challenging trainings or projects that need team cooperation. For example, in the A-mode small class teaching of circuit principle in Tsinghua University, students were required to complete comprehensive, designable and challenging projects such as headphone amplifier, active noise reduction earphone and active filter. In this process, students could not only digest the knowledge learned in the course, but also trained their team cooperation and innovation spirit.

Under the hybrid teaching mode, the science and engineering core courses can continuously break through the upper bound of course quality and learning effectiveness, and realize the real implementation of IPTTC education. For ideas and measures in this aspect, see Yu Xinjie: Two bounds in first-rate courses (China University Teaching, No. 3, 2019).

As discussed above, virtue fostering through education, value building, ability training and knowledge transferring can be realized in the core course of science and engineering such as circuit principle. Of course, it needs to be pointed out that to achieve this, teachers are required to occupy the class hours of knowledge imparting, and use some tools in the mobile Internet era to reasonably motivate and stimulate students, so as to achieve the effect of education. That is, teachers need to properly handle the dialectical relations of subtraction of teaching content and addition of teaching effect, as well as negative and positive stimulation to students. All this has been already discussed in my special article (On the six relationships in hybrid teaching, Chinese University Teaching, No. 5, 2019), and will not be repeated any more here.

For virtue fostering, value building, ability training and knowledge transfer, it should be noted that the discussion on properly handling their dialectical relations still belongs to the category of teaching skills (how to do) in the IPTTC. In the Tao (moral education) in the IPTTC of the science and engineering core course, the most important and also the most difficult is undoubtedly that the majority of teachers recognize their greatest value — not speaking out the knowledge correctly in the classroom, but educating students through their words and examples in the teaching process. It is not easy to reach a broad consensus on this point, and it needs our common efforts in our long-term teaching process.

Reprinted from the journal of China University Teaching (WeChat Official Account)

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