About Shin-jeng Lin
Before I chose to pursue the academic career and become a professor, I used to envision myself to be a novel writer or a poet, because I have always been intrigued by human natures and had a gift in creative writing. This aspect of my character reflects my motivation for research and compassion for students.
Milan Kundera has been my favorite writer for his philosophical and unique poetic perspectives. In my college days in National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan, I was the president of the creative writing club on campus despite the fact that my major was Management Information Systems. I won many awards in various competitions of short novels, poems, and essays throughout the high school and college, and even published some of my works in local newspapers and magazines. I was also an active member of the film club and the drama club on campus. I have always loved independent and foreign films, particularly fond of those films exploring subtle human emotions that only the most sensitive artists can unveil and showing genuine sympathy for human sufferings. I joined the drama club because I thought that through acting, I can ‘enter’ different persona and deeply understand human beings. I was also a member of the minority service club when I was a freshman. We went to the mountains to provide services to the native Taiwanese (an analogy could be American Indians to Americans) and educate the kids. I also know the music; I directed the class chorus three times in the high schools and twice in college. This solid foundation contributes greatly toward good character as I draw upon it to guide my behavior.
I am introspective and a good observer. In some ways, being a college professor can be perceived as an alternative career to being a novelist or poet. Both professors and writers engage in research and writing. I still observe people’s behavior, but more specific how people search for information. What is more by being a researcher than a writer is that now I also have the scientific methodology to study people’s cognition. Understanding the cognitive activity of people is another way (other than acting and creative writing) to understand not only how people are who they are, but also why. In addition, I am fascinated by how information could empower individuals and change lives. By being a researcher as opposed to being an outside observer looking in, I also am playing a relatively more direct and immediate role in contribution to the society, because I am actually designing tools to support how people gather and seek for information. Even when I wrote novels, I used to construct an intricate network of symbols. I have a tendency of thinking about and relating things from a system perspective. My intellectual curiosity and need of thoughts for food will keep my research flame going and ensure me being a serious scholar.
A good observer meanwhile is a good and compassionate listener. I believe that understanding is the means, whereas mercy is the end. When students come to my office for advices, classes related or not, I listen and contribute constructive positive advice. I relate my career development path and learning methodology to the students who come to my office and seek for my help. I encourage the students who have a difficult time in their personal lives to stay on track and ensure them any help I can provide. I particularly enjoy the opportunity of being a mentor to the youth. These students have so much potential and I am happy to provide the guidance and care to help them break through the obstacles in their lives. Many students commented in the teaching evaluations that I have been a great help when they asked for it. My expectations of students are often higher than students’ own only because I believe in the quality of education. The students who love to learn and who are willing to interact with me are those who appreciate my teaching competence and mentoring the most. My ideal of education will continue to push me for the improvement of my own pedagogy and to be a better teacher.