As a teacher, I find no greater joy than to mentor students and give them the tools they need to explore their own passions through the use of technology. I believe that all students have the capacity to learn, and I strive to make their introductory experience with Computer Science as comprehensive and accessible as possible.
One of my primary objectives in teaching is to bring a sense of clarity and accessibility to our introductory level curriculum and help inspire students to think of themselves as capable computer programmers. To this end, I believe that course content should be explained in a clear, straightforward and patient manner in order to effectively illustrate core concepts, foster a sense of confidence and encourage students to further their study of Computer Science and programming. As a teacher I strive to help students feel at ease and become receptive to new ways of thinking.
One of the biggest challenges any teacher of a high-tech discipline faces is to meaningfully differentiate instruction to support learners at their own level. I am passionate about finding ways to reach students using their own unique learning styles and meeting them “where they are” in their learning journey. One technique that I’ve found particularly effective at this is the “flipped classroom” model of instruction which inverts the way in which content is delivered to students by providing students with a series of self-paced learning modules that are completed outside of the classroom. These modules include videos, interactive programming challenges and self-assessment mechanisms and are assigned on a weekly basis. These modules allow us to free up more class time to devote to hands-on activities such as advanced programming exercises. We have found that this model gives us the ability to engage with the curriculum in a deeper, more comprehensive manner and better prepare students for upper-level courses within our department as class time can now be used to focus on developing the skills needed to be a successful programmer. Currently I coordinate this effort and oversee its implementation in the largest course in the CS department (Introduction to Computer Programming.)
I also strongly believe that students should be encouraged to move beyond the classroom and explore their own passions through independent research. Over the past few years I have mentored many students through formal independent studies, DURF grants, as well as serving on a number of Gallatin colloquium committees for graduating seniors. One project that I am particularly proud of is a new collaboration between the Computer Science and Museum Studies departments in which we pair student developers with museum experts to design interactive museum exhibits. This project allows our students to get a taste of what it is like to work as a professional interactive developer as well as deal with interpersonal issues that arise from working on a software development team. Working with students in this capacity is incredibly rewarding, and I look forward to continuing these kinds of partnerships in future semesters.