May 12, 2023

What it is like to teach at AIMS

I recently had the privilege of teaching an Applied Statistics course at AIMS South Africa, an institution renowned for nurturing some of the brightest minds on the continent. The core purpose of teaching at AIMS is to empower these promising students with essential skills and knowledge that will enable them to tackle real-world challenges and contribute to the growth and development of Africa. As an educator, I am constantly inspired by the passion and commitment of my colleagues who, like myself, love the opportunity to share our expertise and witness the transformative impact of education. The students in the Master’s program at AIMS exhibit a strong sense of curiosity and intellectual rigor, making the teaching experience exceptionally rewarding.

Learning often involves stepping out of one’s comfort zone and embracing new challenges. My course is very challenging because it covers both statistical theory and hands-on application, which means even the students with the strongest mathematics backgrounds will be challenged in the programming requirements, and the students with experience with Python will be challenged to produce mathematical justifications.

The AIMS students’ inquisitive nature, paired with a genuine enthusiasm for learning, creates a stimulating classroom environment that fosters collaboration, critical thinking, and innovation. AIMS students actively participate in class by contributing to discussions and asking questions; this enhances their own learning experience but also encourages their peers to engage more deeply with the material. AIMS students also value diverse perspectives and experiences and clearly create a sense of community, thereby promoting a culture of collaboration and open-mindedness that translates to my classroom.

This harmonious and joy-filled dynamic with the students has made my time at AIMS an unforgettable and truly fulfilling experience!

Theresa Gebert (Carnegie Mellon University)

Students had this to say about her course:

“As one of the students who took the statistics course delivered by Theresa Gilbert, one of my key takeaways is to always ask questions. Because through asking questions one develops an essential part of learning and understanding complex concepts. It was encouraging to see that the lecturer in this course provided room for questions and fostered an environment of curiosity and engagement. Also the lab work was owesome, we saw different ways in analysing data (real world situations). I want to take a moment to express my appreciation for this approach and to encourage other students to keep asking questions and seeking further information and clarification. By doing so, we can deepen our understanding of statistics and its applications in the real world, and become better equipped to tackle complex problems with data.” Emmanuel Kwarirandunda (Zimbabwe)

“The Statistics class was nothing short of awesome – a breath of fresh air. We got to visualize data in new way using Python and some real world applications of machine learning were quite intriguing (e.g. analyzing text data and pictures)” Faith Buhlebenkosi Matema (Zimbabwe)

“If you are not googling you are doing it wrong…. She encouraged us to ask when you don’t know something and called it “calling a friend”. To me this course was a great reminder of my purpose here which is applying statistics in the industry through machine learning.” Oprah Natasha Phiri (Zimbabwe)

“The course delivery was excellent, I learnt many applications of machine learning, for example how natural processing of text data can help understand graphs or science networks.” Siyabonga Mthimkulu (South Africa)

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