Learning and innovation are the primary goals of academia. My vision of teaching is to work as a catalyst to help students achieve those goals. I design, implement, and evaluate my teaching based on what students can learn and innovate from my teaching.
WHY TO TEACH
I am fortunate to have great teachers throughout my student life. Their skillful teaching and wise mentoring had a profound impact on my thinking and development. A successful professional in any field achieves honors and bright career. However, being a successful teacher one also earns lifelong respect from numerous students that he helped to succeed in their own lives. I taught an undergraduate course on database management for the first time in the fall, 2006. At the beginning of semester, most of the students in my class had no idea about the subject. By the end of the semester, I was able to add new dimension to students’ knowledge. They had implemented projects solving real life problems and started to think over interesting open questions in the subject. I was able to transform students in my class from uniformed persons to knowledgeable problem solvers and thinkers. This potential impact of a good teacher is my motivation for teaching.
I teach computer science, which is a fantastic combination of science, engineering, and arts. It is still a young discipline with new concepts and branches evolving rapidly. I view computer science teaching as an opportunity to motivate students to develop new concepts and applications with potential to improve everyone’s life.
WHAT TO TEACH
With easy access to the WWW, students can easily get all the information about any subject. Through my teaching, I try to give knowledge, which cannot be obtained from other information sources. While teaching any class, my goal is to motivate students to think about what can be done with the known facts about the subject and what are the open problems to work over.
Learning computer science has three constituents: theoretical background, designing applications, and implementing real world systems. Learning theoretical background enables to understand advantages and limitations of any technique independent of a specific problem. Students can appreciate the time and efforts invested in learning a subject if they can see applications and techniques developed based on the subject. Implementing real world systems is vital to understand where the knowledge of the subject fits in the big picture of computer science. While teaching a class on database management, I covered all three aspects of the subjects. I started with teaching relational algebra, which covers theoretical background. Then we had small assignments designing simple database applications. At the end of the semester students presented survey papers about open challenges in various application domains for current database management systems.
HOW TO TEACH
Every student has his own peculiar learning style. Some students learn by examples while others prefer mathematical proofs and analysis. Some students prefer working in groups while others require individual exercises. The challenge for any teacher is to design a teaching strategy that suits every student in the class. To meet this challenge my teaching strategy is a combination of
Student and teacher efforts: I teach majority of the syllabus thoroughly in the class. However, I assign some topics for self-learning and students present those topics in the class.
Individual and group activities: For semester long project and in-class quizzes students work as a team, while homework assignments are individual.
Conventional lecturing and modern technology: All my lecture notes and slides are available on the web and I plan to use new collaborative environments like wiki and blogs for future classes.
Student feedback and self-reflection: After completing a major topic in the class, I always conduct short student feedback to understand the student opinion. I prefer having open door policy for students so that they can walk in any time to discuss their difficulties with teacher.
Finally, to be a good teacher one should always remain a good student himself.
Last updated on July, 2011.