These days, Assistant Professor of Economics Thea How Choon sets a lot of reminders on her phone. Like many around the world, the pandemic upended her daily routine. Today, she’s living and working across a nine-hour time zone difference—which means several of her classes begin as early as 12:30 a.m. her time.
“I have alarms for everything because the timing is so weird,” she says. ‘I have to know when to eat dinner and all that.”
How Choon returned to her home country of Mauritius at the beginning of the pandemic. That’s where she defended her thesis before earning her Ph.D. from Boston University in the spring, where she spent her summer planning for her first semester at St. Lawrence, and where she’s currently teaching from.
Her decision to teach synchronously despite its effect on her schedule is both a personal preference and an effort to accommodate students so they get the most out of every class. She believes the best way to learn economics is to work closely through problem sets with someone who already understands them.
“I really want to have that component of guiding them through each lesson so that they feel safe and supported in that way,” says How Choon. “I'm not someone who can learn very well asynchronously. I actually really like it when there's someone walking me through everything. That's the way that I learn. If you're interacting with someone, it’s so much easier to remember everything and to understand things because your mind is more engaged. You feel like you actually can connect with the material.”