Statements on Teaching
While working in industry, I spent a large amount of my time chatting with coworkers, discussing issues in groups, presenting solutions in meetings, and speaking at large gatherings. To advance in a large organization, such as Lucent Technologies, effective communication skills and teamwork are as important as strong technical background. My industrial experience allows me to relate well to my students, who will eventually join the industrial work forces.
While working as a computer consultant I gained important techniques for teaching. I have been a computer consultant for years and have provided services to faculty, staff, students, coworkers, friends and family. The first stage of my consulting is to analyze my clients. I need to know, for example, what type of computer system they have, what their problems or needs are, and how well they know their computers. Next, I organize my solutions and suggestions to suit their needs and their abilities. I do not wish to waste the time of a sophisticated client by providing too many details or to lose a naive client by omitting steps. Then, I show my clients the solutions and the suggestions in a clear step-by-step manner. I often pause to allow them time to understand and to ask questions. Teaching a class of students is similar to consulting with a group of clients; it is a two-way communication. The goal is to organize the subject matter to reach as many students as we can while allowing each individual student to ask questions.
Being a learner I understand being a student. I love learning new knowledge, new techniques, and new activities. For example, I learned a wide range of computing systems including, VLSI design, solid-state microelectronics, digital circuit design, computer architecture, operating systems, programming and algorithms, and artificial intelligence. Moreover, I learned a wide range of sports including, scuba diving, bicycling, skiing, and flying airplanes and helicopters. I relate my love of learning and my wide range of knowledge to my students.
I enjoy teaching. With my background on hardware and software and on industrial working experience, I can teach a wide range of subjects and can relate well to my students. For hardware, I have taught “Introduction to Digital Design” (CSC265 & ELEN232), “Digital Design Lab” (CSC269 & ELET371), “Computer Architecture” (CSC364), and “Advanced Computer Architecture” (CSC521). For software, I have taught “Software Design” (CSC230) and “Advanced Analysis of Algorithms and Complexity” (CSC520).
Over the years I have developed different teaching styles and tried different teaching techniques for better relating to my students. I told my students that getting good grades and getting a degree are not the sole objectives of being here. The main objective for being a student should be to learn. I told myself that getting good student evaluations and getting tenure are not the sole objectives of being here. The main objective for being a teacher should be to teach. I started my first teaching style by carefully reading through textbooks, extracting key ideas for preparing PowerPoint slides, and presenting the PowerPoint slides in classes. Then, I moved on to my second teaching style by carefully reading through textbooks, preparing lecture notes, and presenting and writing notes on whiteboards. Finally, I advanced to my third teaching style by totally creating my own lectures without following any textbooks and conducting my lectures by writing on blackboards usually without the need to refer to my notes since I remembered my own lectures. To better engage my students in the learning process, I tried a technique called “Active Learning” by allowing students to discuss in groups and to speak out. I even tried “pop quiz everyday”. Different subjects and different student populations require different teaching styles and techniques, so choose wisely.
Good teaching requires good preparation. I have spent much time preparing over 1000 PowerPoint slides for three major areas of computing: Advanced Analysis of Algorithms and Complexity, Software Design and Engineering, and Advanced Computer Architecture and Parallel Processing. To save time and effort for my colleagues, I make my carefully prepared PowerPoint slides available on the Internet for use by other instructors. Many instructors in other universities found my PowerPoint slides helpful and used them in their classes, including for example, Prof. Steve Goddard at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Prof. Ralph Boland at Acadia University, Prof. Irena Pevac at Central Connecticut State University, and Prof. Boris Peltsverger at Georgia Southwestern State University. Three professors (Witold Suryn, Pierre Bourque, and Claude Y Laporte) in Quebec Canada (École de Technologie Supérieure) even translated some of my PowerPoint slides into French to better address the needs of their students.
Motivation is the key for self learning. To excite students for active learning, I founded and organized Autonomous Robot Competitions and supervised a robotic team and the formation of a robotic club. To enhance learning, I incorporated special projects in classes including, Entrepreneurship and Information Technology (large IT) projects for Software Design and Engineering, Autonomous Robot Projects for Computer Architecture, “The Best” algorithm projects for Advanced Analysis of Algorithms and Complexity, and “State of the Art” system projects for Advanced Computer Architecture and Parallel Processing. And, in Digital Design, I stimulated students with state of the art topics such as Fuzzy logic circuits.
An important part of teaching is academic and research advising of undergraduate and graduate students. I enjoy talking to students. Despite having to supervise over 80 undergraduate students during some quarters, I still took time to ask my students, during advising and when I ran into them, how they were doing in classes and to encourage and guide them when they had difficulties. I enjoy working with undergraduate students by supervising various interesting special topic and project courses. I also supervised a large number of graduate students. In five years, acting as the chair of the advisory committees, I had successfully advised and graduated 17 M.S. students with practicum, 5 M.S. students with thesis, and 1 Ph.D. student with dissertation. In all, I graduated 23 graduate students in five years.
Teaching is an evolving process. Teachers should stay current in their disciplines and in the needs of their students. The future advance of teaching is adapting to the development of the subjects and to the needs of the students.
Ben's, Research, Service, Teaching