Explore the Nano World 

Aug. 2021: Dr. Wen Zhang’s team membersjoined the ACS Fall 2021 in Atlanta and presented their research.  

Jul. 2021: Dr. Zhang’s group membersparticipated the first 2021 virtual CAPEES e-poster competition on July 17, 2021.Dr. Weihua Qingwon the best poster award. 

 Wen's Research Group​

Wen Zhang

Principal Investigator
Associate Professor

Phone: (973) 596-5520 
Fax: (973) 596-5790
Email: wen.zhang@njit.edu

Office Location: Colton Hall 211

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Besides individual homework like above, group or team work could also incorporate this forom-based concept, where student teams are requried to select topics they prefer and elaborate their unique research results that are shared with other groups via the online platform or forums. Results showed that compared to traditional class teaching, the forum-based online teaching effectively improved students’ learning engagement and motivation as well as reduced procrastination and plagiarism. Although some students are emotionally resistant to this new forum-based online teaching method, most of the students embraced moderate levels of peer pressure and competition that were created by the forum-based learning process. Therefore, forum-based online teaching can be considered as a useful complementary approach to traditional class teaching.

There are muliti-faceted implications of our experimental study. First, higher education does not only convey knowledge but also provides the landscape of enlightening critical thinking, research and problem-solving capability. This new exploratory forum-based method may change the traditional teacher-centered to student-centered teaching. Student-centered environment and pedagogic dialogical spaces are imporatnt for supporting and fostering active learners. Second, higher education is supposed to engage students’ real life experiences or culture to enlighten their learning process. Forum-based online teaching creates a virtual third space of ‘school life’, where students have the opportunity to blend their unqiue life experiences or opinion with professional academic homework. Through self-exploration of real world problems, the learning interests and engagement are both increased. Discussions about cutting-edge research and real-world problems in classroom always complement and strengthen faculty lectures that usually cover limited scopes of theories or principles due to the limited classroom time. Finally, breaking a final “term paper” into multiple small projects via forums is helpful for students to complete homework assignments without procrastination or plagiarism on online teaching forum.

Name      Selected air treatment technologies       Microorganisms   Calculated energy efficiencies             Journal reference (DOI)


With the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), online education has been increasingly adopted globally. Improving higher education padagogy is a long-lasting challenges for educators, and the online teaching is posing additional unceratin barriers for engaging students. This educational research was carried out jointly by Dr. Xiaowei Kang at Capital Normal University in Beijing, China and Dr. Wen Zhang at New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, the US. To improve students’ learning engagement and motivation to minimize students’ procrastination and plagiarism behavior, this experiment demonstrated a forum-based online teaching method, which introduced competition among students in completing homework and responding instructor’s questions on a web platform (e.g., Moodle or Canvas). Briefly, students are usually asked to choose a specific topic for a term paper or homework question to work on and avoid repeatition or overlap with other fellow students. Their choices are posted on the platform and immediately available for view by others. Moreover, their responses and answers are also accessible to fellow students in an effort to minimize repeatitions and encourage unique answers based on self-learning such as literature reading/review. For example, the following is part of a student report in a table that was jointly completed by class students in a forum-based homework assignment. In this homework, students worked on a litearture summary on different air purificaiotn technologies and estimated the energy efficiencies per removal of airborne microbes. Students were first asked to sign up and indicate select their topic and reference papers on the forum platform, which aims to inform others of their choices so no one else should use this topic or reference. Then, they work on their case studies by filling out this table with relevant infomration they extract from literature such as the types of air purification processes, microbial types, and their calculated enery consumption per unit removal of airborne microbes. This homework setting will foster and enrich the knowledge diversity and promote proactiveness of students as they experience peer pressures from others who submit before them, and also they could pick the topics they prefer if they start early, which reduces procrastination. Plagiarism is also largely prevented as they need to present their unique answers and results based on their own chioces of systems and parameters. Grading is based on factors such as information accuracy, completeness, and quality of references. This policy of grading encourages students to inevitably compare and compete with each other.

An experimental case study on forum-based online teaching to improve student’s engagement and motivation in higher education

Jun. 2021: Professor Wen Zhang was invited to report for RCR seminar about seeking sustainable pathways for spend lithium-ion batteries.

Stu 1          Photocatalytic inactivation                            E. coli cells                  6.0x10-3                           https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cej.2020.

                        of airborne bacteria 
Stu 2          Ultrasonication air purification                      Fungus                        1.7x10-3                           https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1750-3841

Stu 3          UV Photocatalysis                                        Microalgae                      0.19                              https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.

Stu 4          Vacuum ultraviolet photocatalysis             Airborne MS
2 viruses         1.28                              https://doi.org/10.1080/02786826.

Stu 5          Plasma disinfection                                      Mold                                1.90                              https://doi-org.libdb.njit.edu:8443/10