Teaching in focus: Hanh Huynh

Learn more about the work of our educators at UBC

Hanh Huynh

12 February, 2024


Hanh Huynh

My pronouns:



Associate Professor of Teaching





Year I started working at UBC:


What first motivated you to become an educator?

I had a "horrible" experience in my first year as a university student (1983), so I promised myself not to do the same thing to future students if I ever become an educator. At the time, the faculty member told my class that he hated it when students asked him "stupid" questions because he is a very busy person/researcher. I never dared to ask him questions, ever (especially with my language barrier)!

Tell us more about your work.

I teach medical students in small active group learning called Case Based Learning (CBL), and also in the Histopathology and Neuroanatomy Labs in the first two years of the UBC medical program. I also deliver lectures to the medicine class and undergraduate course. My teaching principle is "Less is More" and there is absolutely no such thing as "stupid question" in my classroom!

What inspired your particular approach to teaching?

To avoid cognitive overload in learners, my teaching approach is always: Less is More. I give the students just enough information or ask guiding questions to stimulate their curiosity (intrinsic motivation for learning) and allow them time and space to explore/elaborate further on the topic on their own: The reward for me is when my students discover the answers to their questions on their own: The "aha" moment in my students!

What have you learned while teaching that has surprised you the most?

In my early years of teaching, I thought that as a teacher, I must know everything and be able to answer every student question with my thorough preparations. It took me a couple years to realize I should not be embarrassed when I could not answer a question in the moment, and that it is OK to be honest with the students. They respect honesty and transparency in the teacher.

What impact do you hope to have on your students?

My goal in teaching is for my students to realize that learning can be a wonderful and exciting journey: All students should feel safe to ask question(s) or seek help when they don't know the answer or struggle to comprehend the topics/issues. Furthermore, everybody should be treated fairly and feel that they are part of a team. We work together to achieve our learning goals in a safe and inclusive environment.

Are there any colleagues or mentors you’d like to acknowledge and why?

Dr. Antia (my MSc thesis advisor) taught me "Never take anything for granted"; Dr. Dorovini-Zis (my Interdisciplinary PhD Supervisor) to work hard and do your best in everything you do, and finally and most importantly, my Father taught me: In life, you gain something, you will also lose something – the law of equilibrium! These teachings help shape my character/personality in both my private and professional lives, and in everything I do!

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