Professor Wintermuth, "prefers to give assignments to students to help them to consolidate the knowledge learned. She corrects our papers very carefully and she offers us a more detailed reading list. Rather than just giving us a fish, she helps us learn how to fish."
Susan-Gale Wintermuth is a visiting professor. She was invited by CESL to teach "Legal Research and Writing", "Civil Procedure and Class Action", and "Principles of International and Comparative Contract Law" in the first term of the 2012-13 academic year. This is the first time CESL has offered courses taught in English to first year Chinese law master's students. CESL student Fu Qiqi interviewed Professor Wintermuth and her classmates to find out their thoughts on the experience.
Students have already discovered that the teaching style and methodology differ with those traditionally employed at Chinese universities. "I like the fact that the professor is very active in class and encouraged us to participate." Said one student.
"The perspective of this course is quite different from Chinese ones, we have access to the Common Law mode of thinking, and it gives us a broader frame of reference." However, understanding legal terminology in English, finding the correct translations and identifying the corresponding area of the Chinese legal system have presented difficulties. Students who only chose one or two of Professor Wintermuth's courses sometimes found it hard to follow sections covered in the other courses. CESL first year students also have different levels of legal knowledge.
LLM students previously studied law. JM students do not hold a law degree and may have no prior knowledge of the law. Lectures sometimes have to be adjusted to take into account these differences. If a topic is grasped quickly, more difficult concepts can be introduced. However, a problem common to all students is a lack of basic research and writing skills.
Conducting research and solving problems independently pose particular dilemmas. Some enjoy the challenge, others complain that homework requirements are slightly too heavy, with each assignment needing on average two days to complete. All students agree on one point, their respect and admiration for Professor Wintermuth.
"Professor Wintermuth is very careful and responsible, her lectures are clear. She is willing to answer students' questions and is open to our opinions. In addition, she always tries to speak slowly to facilitate a gradual adaptation to a course in English. It is of great help for us to improve our English and to cultivate our professional capacities."
"I have been pleased and honored" Professor Wintermuth said. The students, "seem very open and honest. For example, if something is not clear, someone will tell me in a polite way so that I can approach the subject from a different perspective. This is important feedback for me. They also seem very friendly and interested that I have a good experience in China. All of this together tells me that the students are not just interested in listening to a lecture, but in actively learning new information and skills. Plus, the respect they show also indicates to me their interest and commitment to learning. This is an extremely good experience for me, and hopefully also for my students.
I usually find a large class difficult to conduct in an interactive style, but not this group. They have proven to be the exception." Wintermuth said. The students are attentive and interested in learning. They are well prepared, participate in the discussion - expressing new and creative ideas when applying principles to real life situations.
"Professor Wintermuth tries her best to deliver knowledge to us, she has a very heavy workload, but she puts all her energy into each course, she is a very good teacher and I admire her so much."