Benedictine’s pingpong professor helps students, faculty win at academia and life

November 16, 2016

Ovid Wong lends a helping hand – and paddle – as he teaches students and faculty how best to relate to others in and out of the classroom

Lisle, Illinois ~ Don’t let Ovid Wong’s humble demeanor fool you. He has ice in his veins as thick as the Rock of Gibraltar – at least when it comes to pingpong.

Wong, associate professor of Teacher Education Preparation at Benedictine University, challenges his students within and outside of the classroom, and if they are up to the task, he has no problem giving them a deft pingpong lesson, often blasting angling, twisting and spinning winners off the table against his much younger opponents.

“Playing pingpong keeps the brain cells active,” Wong said. “It is all about hand-eye coordination. It is research that is proven.”

Author of more than 30 books on teaching methods, Wong believes in borrowing from various fields to help guide student and faculty success across the nation and abroad, such as in China where he has taught each summer since 2012 at Dalian Nationalities University.

BenU Associate Professor Ovid Wong received a surprise gift from former students: an autographed pingpong paddle framed with a picture of Wong and two of his former students and pingpong partners.Playing games is part of Wong’s approach to teaching. This past summer, he taught winning strategies on delivering knowledge and skill to faculty at Dalian’s School of Economics and Management by having them play Monopoly.

“I divided the faculty members into two groups and told them to generalize some rules and strategies for making money,” Wong said. “Most people use deductive reasoning or top-down logic, which means having rules and learning them before you begin, and not inductive reasoning or bottom-up logic, which means figuring out the rules as you go along or after the experience. I teach them how to apply this back to teaching through the use of mixed methodologies.

“Constructivism teaches us to construct our own learning,” he added. “It takes more time, but this builds ownership and the impact is deeper.”

Wong, a resident of Elk Grove Village, Ill., emphasizes that teaching strategies are applicable across cultures and disciplines. He understands the pressures that young college seekers have as well as pressures on non-tenured faculty, and presents approaches to students and faculty that allow them to better relate to one another. By doing so, they better relate to the subject matter, which can increase understanding and knowledge absorption.

“College entrance exams in China are high pressure,” Wong said. “Students want to be nourished at same time they are preparing for college entrance time so they have IV nourishments.”

In conjunction with the Benedictine values, Wong teaches that to be truly successful one must employ personal tactics that help maintain a healthy lifestyle balance, which includes proper nutrition (not necessarily intravenously) and exercise.

“In my Contemporary Biology course, I had my students work on a diet and exercise plan approved by the American Heart Association for just one week and I witnessed a more than 70 percent success rate on their Body Mass Index (BMI),” Wong said. “The BMI project brought success and raised everybody's awareness of the need to stay healthy.”

Likewise, Wong’s pursuit of pingpong perfection has engaged faculty, staff and students University-wide. And for students, it makes him more approachable. Some students with whom he has played pingpong have later told Wong, “I want to learn from you.”

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Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois, and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls nearly 10,000 students in 56 undergraduate and 19 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the sixth consecutive year in 2016. A 2016 PayScale Inc. report ranked BenU one of the top 10 colleges in Illinois for return on investment and in the top 20 percent nationally. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org). For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, admissions@ben.edu or visit ben.edu.

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