Year Awarded: 2008
College of Engineering and Computer Science
The ultimate goal of any educator should be to enable his/her students to achieve their potential. I attempt to attain this goal through three major techniques: creating a friendly classroom atmosphere, giving challenging and creative assignments and exams, and adapting my courses to the specific students that I have.I try to provide a friendly classroom atmosphere where students feel comfortable asking questions, both in class and outside of class. By letting students know I am approachable and will always listen to their concerns, I feel I receive more questions from students than many professors in my field. In a typical 75-minute lecture, I receive about 20 questions. Furthermore, my office door is always open, even if I don't have office hours. I believe if students ask more questions when they are unclear about a concept, they learn more.In computer science, the ability to solve new problems is paramount. Thus, I challenge students on their homework assignments with difficult problems that require a new application of the primitives they have learned. I use about 50% of an exam to test basic skills, 30% to test more complex information shown in class and 20% to test creative problem-solving abilities. In this manner, I can gauge the achievement of all students while challenging the brightest. No matter how well prepared I am, I can never perfectly predict how students will react to my lesson plans, or how quickly they will learn particular concepts. Thus, in order to best serve the students, it becomes important to adapt lesson plans and activities to the specific class, in real-time. Many times I change the example that I use to illustrate a concept right in the middle of a class. I always attempt to gauge students' understanding by looking at their faces and body language. If something is not working, I immediately try something else. Other times, I realize that a technique hasn't worked when I grade an assignment. In these situations, I change what I teach in future classes to address the deficiencies that I see.I hope that these techniques communicate my course content and that my passion for teaching provides technical proficiency and excitement about computer science.