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LiWei Peng gains STEAM as new research graduate assistant

By Jill Mapes

LiWei Peng, a second-year instructional technology Ph.D graduate student at Ohio University, is a woman of many interests. It’s no surprise that LiWei is partial to all things technological, but sports are a completely different story for the mild-mannered education graduate assistant.

“I really like to play golf, go fishing and watch football,” Peng said.

Since starting in September 2007 as a research graduate assistant with the VITAL Lab’s STEAM project, LiWei has been busy observing the classrooms in which STEAM’s graduate fellows teach.

In addition to observation, LiWei also analyzes test scores and other educational indicators to ensure that STEAM’s graduate fellows and computer-based educational activities are improving the learning process. Simply put, LiWei’s position is one that strives to enhance the overall quality and effectiveness of the STEAM project.

“I really hope I can learn from doing the observations [in the classrooms] and contribute some ideas that can make the [STEAM] program more different and unique,” Peng said. “Going into the classroom, I get to see which ways [of teaching] work with our technology and what improves grades.”

The incorporation of technology into learning environments is a subject about which LiWei is constantly thinking. She explains that Web sites, computer games and other technological aids will be the premier way to reach students in years to come, which gives the STEAM project an edge.

Nevertheless, Peng doesn’t want educational institutions to lose sight of the importance of actual teachers because “human contact is necessary in the learning process.”

This Taiwan transplant is bound to achieve great things with the STEAM project, especially given her previous background at other universities. LiWei received her Bachelor’s degree in applied English from Ming Chuan University in Taiwan and moved to America to pursue her ambitious educational aspirations. Peng graduated from San Francisco State University in 2006 with a Master’s degree in instructional technology.

“I taught a K-12 computer class in San Francisco for four years, so I really like to learn how to integrate computer curriculum into the classroom because it can help when teaching many different subjects,” LiWei said.

Although LiWei thinks fondly of her days spent in San Francisco, she says that she has genuinely enjoyed the time that she’s spent at Ohio University and working with the STEAM project. Culturally, she misses San Francisco and its exciting nightlife but notes that “Athens is better for concentrating on [her] studies.”

As for the future, Peng has high hopes and lofty goals. She explains that after receiving her Ph.D. degree in instructional technology, she’d like to work for an instructional design company for a while and eventually teach in a college setting.

This “have-my-cake-and-eat-it-too” mentality is no shock coming from a go-getter like LiWei. She enjoys both teaching and Second Life developing in the lab, so she is sure to conquer both the business world and a collegiate atmosphere in years to come. Until then, she will continue to be an asset to both the VITAL Lab and the STEAM project.