Evidence of Teaching and Learning



Description of Teaching Context

This teaching portfolio revolves around my teaching experiences in the Senior Design Project (CSC 492) and the CSC UCAB Summer Practicum (Summer 2014), both described below.

  • CSC 492 - Senior Design Project

    The Senior Design Project (CSC 492) is the required capstone course in Computer Science at NC State, and as such is a very particular course. Groups of 3 to 5 seniors in Computer Science work on a project that is unique per group and per semester. All projects are proposed by industry sponsors under the supervision of the Senior Design staff. Most class sessions involve student groups working on their projects in the Senior Design Lab, but there are also several lectures and activities scheduled throughout the semester in a large lecture hall.

    I've been involved in this course in different capacities since I served as a Teaching Assistant on the Spring 2011 semester. My responsibilities have included assisting students during lab sessions with their various projects, grading and providing feedback on students’ oral and written reports, and giving lectures on software testing and version control. More recently, since Spring 2014, I began serving as a Technical Advisor, acting as a mentor for student teams, and providing feedback, guidance, and support regarding all areas of a project. For the purposes of this portfolio, I am considering my involvement in this course from Fall 2013 to Spring 2015, covering both CoAT and PTP. Details about each semester are provided below.

    • Fall 2013

      Role:
      Teaching Assistant of one of the three section under the mentorship of Dr. Robert Fornaro and Ms. Margaret Heil.
      Students:
      8 teams, 27 students
    • Spring 2014

      Role:
      Technical Advisor of 5 of the 10 teams in one of the three sections under the mentorship of Dr. Robert Fornaro and Ms. Margaret Heil.
      Students:
      5 teams, 19 students
    • Fall 2014

      Role:
      Technical Advisor of one of the three sections under the mentorship of Dr. Robert Fornaro and Ms. Margaret Heil.
      Students:
      6 teams, 21 students
    • Spring 2015

      Role:
      Technical Advisor of 6 teams (25 students) and co-advisor of 4 teams (17 students) on one of the three sections under the mentorship of Dr. Robert Fornaro and Ms. Margaret Heil.
      Students:
      10 teams, 42 students
  • CSC UCAB Summer Practicum - Summer 2014

    Since 2007, the Computer Science department at NC State has hosted a group of international undergraduate students from Universidad Católica Andrés Bello (UCAB) in Caracas, Venezuela for a two-week intensive Summer Practicum. This portfolio includes artifacts and reflections on my experience as the instructor of the 2014 Computer Science Practicum . This instance of the course hosted 16 Venezuelan students, and served as elective credits at UCAB. The course focused on software development for embedded sensor systems using Microsoft’s Gadgeteer platform. I was in charge of designing this course and creating all the materials including lectures and lecture notes, assignments, a mid-course project, and a final project. Students attended lectures and lab sessions daily from 9am to 5pm for two weeks, and had the opportunity of building a software solution of their choice using the provided hardware.

Professional Development in Teaching Activities

PTP Professional Development Project

  • Context:

    The Course Pack is a comprehensive guide for the CSC Senior Design Project Course (CSC 492). It provides information beyond what can be found on the Syllabus including administrative items, forms used throughout the semester, examples of documentation, technical communication tips, assignment requirements and expectations, guidelines, and more.

    Originally, the Course Pack was compiled into two large documents that were printed out for every team. Later, the printed version was replaced by PDF files that were hosted online. An example of the first of these documents is provided below. In Fall 2012, I created a fully web version of the Course Pack (see Course Pack Online v1 below) that simplified access to this resource. While this was an improvement over the previous files, it still presented problems for both students and instructors. For students, the content of the Course Pack was not easily searchable. To find specific information the students would have to navigate the menus and look for the content they needed. For instructors, updating the content required manual editing of the HTML files and uploading them to the server.

    This project takes the idea of a web-accessible Course Pack even further by providing the ability for students to search the entire Course Pack, and for instructors to update the content through a web-accessible interface. To accomplish these goals, I hosted the Course Pack on WordPress. This new version of the Course Pack was made available to students on Spring 2015. This project also aims to measure the impact of this change from the students' perspective through the use of a survey included below.

    Resources:

    Part 1 of Fall 2011 Course Pack
    Previous Web-accessible Course Pack
    Current Course Pack Online
    Assessment survey

    Status:

    The improved version of the online Course Pack was first used during the Spring 2015 semester. As of 4/29/2015, I am waiting to receive IRB approval to conduct a study that compares the current online version with the previous one from the students' perspective. The study will revolve around a survey that can bee seen in the list of resources above. Students will be asked to complete this survey related to their use of the Course Pack during their experience as a Senior Design (CSC492) student. The results will be used to assess changes made to the Senior Design Course Pack as experienced by the students, and will inform future changes to this documentation that will benefit future Computer Science Senior Design students.

    This status section will eventually present the results of this study and a reflection on this project once it is completed.

PTP Seminars

  • Networking Event with Duke PFF Program

    Date:
    December 2014
    Facilitator:
    Dr. Beth Overman and Dr. Hugh Crumley
    Description:
    Mini-panels of faculty with diverse backgrounds and responsibilities met with groups of students from NC State's PTP program and Duke's PFF program to answer questions related to their jobs, including how they obtained (and keep) these jobs, how to balance personal life and work load, and the pros and cons of a faculty position in the light of their experiences.
  • Teaching Portfolio/Philosophy Kickstart

    Date:
    December 2014
    Facilitator:
    Dr. Beth Overman and Susanna Klingenberg
    Description:
    Active discussion of online examples of teaching portfolios and how to use WordPress to start one, followed by group critiquing of teaching philosophies with discussions of what to do and what to avoid when creating one.
  • Surviving the Academic Job Interview

    Date:
    November 2014
    Facilitator:
    Dr. Beth Overman
    Description:
    Exploration of different types of academic positions and common topics discussed during the academic interview process, a description of the interview process, and how to better highlight individual strengths during these interviews.
  • Course Design, from Assessment to Zombies

    Date:
    October 2014
    Facilitator:
    Dr. Beth Overman
    Description:
    Examples of outside-of-the-box courses were presented and discussed focusing on course content, learning objectives, assessment, and learning experiences, followed by an application of these course design concepts to a hypothetical course of participants' choice that was later peer-critiqued.
  • Leading With Care: Recognizing and Responding to Emotional Distress in Others (QPR Training)

    Date:
    October 2014
    Facilitator:
    Dr. Beth Overman and NC State's Counseling Center representatives
    Description:
    Myths and facts on suicidal behavior were discussed as a group with an exploration on possible ways to identify and handle situations were students may need need outside intervention based on the "Question, Persuade, Refer" program, followed by a description of different support organizations available to the NC State community and how to use those resources as needed.
  • Effective Teaching with Technology

    Date:
    September 2014
    Facilitator:
    Dr. Beth Overman and Ashley Grantham
    Description:
    Techniques and opportunities to incorporate technology in the classroom were discussed and exercised, followed by group sessions with several organizations within NC State who offer tools that can be used in the classroom, such as Moodle, Google Apps, NCSU Library spaces, and others.
  • Making The Most of Your PTP Experience

    Date:
    September 2014
    Facilitator:
    Dr. Beth Overman
    Description:
    Introduction and welcome to the PTP 2014-2015 cohort where general goals and expectations were explained, while participants outlined individual goals for the program.

Fundamentals in Teaching Seminars

  • Teaching Philosophy Peer Review

    Date:
    March 2015
    Facilitator:
    Dr. Beth Overman
    Description:
    After a group discussion on things to aim for and things to avoid when writing a teaching philosophy, participants paired up and exchanged reviews on their current version of their teaching philosophies.
  • Introduction to Teaching

    Date:
    January 2014
    Facilitator:
    Susanna Klingenberg
    Description:
    Theory and best practices for effective teaching and learning grounded on Bloom's Taxonomy, and covering concepts such as the creation of a lesson plan including objectives and learning outcomes, strategies, and assessments.
  • Classroom Management Workshop 3: Managing Disruptive Student Behavior

    Date:
    October 2013
    Facilitator:
    Dr. Barbi Honeycutt with a recording from Dr. Brian Van Brunt
    Description:
    Techniques to handle difficult situations regarding student conduct with emphasis on turning such situations into positive learning opportunities, but also discussing how to establish an environment that minimizes these disruptive situations through expectations and rules.
  • Classroom Management Workshop 2: Creating a Healthy Learning Environment

    Date:
    October 2013
    Facilitator:
    Dr. Beth Overman
    Description:
    Discussion about how to set up different types of teaching settings, such as labs and lecture halls, but also non-traditional spaces, to promote effective teaching and learning, as well as setting clear expectations and handling challenging behavior.
  • Classroom Management Workshop 1: Establishing Credibility and Authority

    Date:
    October 2013
    Facilitator:
    Susanna Klingenberg
    Description:
    Techniques that can be used to convey authority and legitimacy, and how to handle situations where credibility or authority are challenged focusing on maintaining a healthy learning environment, while identifying possibilities of capitalizing on these situations by turning them into a teaching/learning opportunity.
  • Student Engagement Workshop 3: Motivating Students

    Date:
    September 2013
    Facilitator:
    Dr. Barbi Honeycutt
    Description:
    Teaching strategies to promote a positive student attitude, discussing different factors that affect student engagement in the material and in classroom activities, and of supportive and non-supportive teaching environments.
  • Student Engagement Workshop 2: Active Learning

    Date:
    September 2013
    Facilitator:
    Dr. Barbi Honeycutt
    Description:
    Exploration of many different active learning paradigms and how they can be applied in different teaching settings to improve engagement, material retention, and on-the-fly assessment of comprehension.
  • Student Engagement Workshop 1: Learning Styles

    Date:
    September 2013
    Facilitator:
    Dr. Barbi Honeycutt
    Description:
    Description of the 8+ different learning styles with active exploration of how to effectively teach targeting different learning processes.

CoAT Synthesis and Application Essays

  • First CoAT Synthesis and Application Essay

    Description:
    First essay required as part of the CoAT program. It synthesizes the three seminars in the Student Engagement Workshop series.
    First CoAT Synthesis and Application Essay

  • Second CoAT Synthesis and Application Essay

    Description:
    Second essay required as part of the CoAT program. It synthesizes the three seminars in the Classroom Management Workshop series.
    Second CoAT Synthesis and Application Essay

Artifacts from CSC 492 - Senior Design Project

  • Assessment Tool

    Context:

    Students in CSC 492 are required to document their work in the form of a project report. There are three iterations for this report. The first one is a draft of the Interim Project Report. This draft is not graded, but we provide extensive feedback on all aspects of the report in the form of comments within the submitted document. Students are also encouraged to ask questions and clarify any of the comments provided in the document. The second iteration is the Interim Project Report, which is due mid-semester. This version of the document is graded and is also commented and sent back to the students. As before, students are encouraged to discuss these comments with the teaching staff as they prepare for the final iteration of the report. At the end of the semester, students submit a Final Project Report, which is also graded.

    On Spring 2015, I incorporated a new activity to my Senior Design section after students received electronically a commented copy of their Interim Project Report in the middle of the semester. The activity consisted in holding formal meetings with each team where every team member would suggest improvements to the report based on the comments provided. I had three main goals with this activity: 1) involve every team member in the development and improvement of the documentation of their project, 2) promote reflection on the comments provided in the report early so that they can produce a better final report, and 3) make sure that the comments provided were correctly understood and suggest more subtle improvements that can be hard to capture on comments. Additionally, the improvements suggested by students would give me insight into the teams' understanding of the project and their path toward a solution.

    Artifact:

    Instructions provided for this activity

    Reflection:

    I was very satisfied with the way this activity turned out. In addition to meeting all my goals, this activity also provided the opportunity for teammates to discuss their ideas for improvement not only with the teaching staff, but also among them at the same time in an environment that would not otherwise be possible in this class. It also gave me a chance to relate some of the topics in the report with fundamental concepts such as software development methodology and terminology distinctions in a very positive context. Based on student comments, it was a worthwhile experience for them as well.

    While this was a very positive experience, I would like to make a few improvements. In the future I would like to give more time to students to prepare for this activity. Some students received their commented report one or two days before the activity, which may not be enough to properly reflect on the comments. This didn't seem to be an issue, given that many teams even had already implemented many changes, but perhaps with more time to look at the feedback they could come up with even more meaningful improvements.

    I also found that the 25 minutes per team that I allocated per team was not always enough. I identified a few ways in which time can be optimized. The first possibility is to simply increase the time for every session. However, this may mean that the activity would have to happen across multiple weeks, depending on the number of teams in the semester. Another option is to optimize the use of technology. Students used their own laptops to project their commented reports as they were suggesting improvements, which took several minutes to set up at the beginning of each session. I could use my own laptop to project all the reports, saving that time for discussions.

  • Feedback from Faculty Mentor

    Context:

    This artifact contains a classroom observation report of my work as a Teaching Assistant for the Senior Design course (CSC 492) during the Fall 2013 semester. In addition to feedback and evaluation from my faculty mentors, this report also contains my reflections.

    Artifact:

    Faculty observation of teaching, including personal reflection

    Reflection:

    Included in artifact.

  • Peer Feedback

    Context:

    Participants of the PTP programs are expected to conduct peer observations both as teachers and as observers. This artifact corresponds to a peer observation of my teaching by a PTP fellow during a new activity I designed for the Spring 2015 semester in Senior Design (CSC 492) involving discussion of feedback provided to students in a written assignment.

    Artifact:

    Peer observation report

    Reflection:

    The comments I received after this activity were quite positive in general, not only from the PTP fellow that observer my teaching, but also from my PTP mentors and the students involved. Being observed by someone with expertise in a different field was also valuable as he was able to focus on the delivery of the content and in the teaching aspects more than on the semantics of the material. Assertive at inviting contributions from all members of a team. I was happy to find trough the observation that I was perceived as approachable and knowledgeable, and that my feedback was welcome by the students.

    The observation process allowed me to identify several aspects where I can improve. The most important one for me is to remember to invite every student to participate in the exercise by being more proactive at preventing a single team member to take over the conversation over the other members of the team. The other improvements relate to the structure of the activity. I would like to provide additional time between the activity and when the students receive the feedback that will be discussed in the activity so that they have more time to prepare and reflect on the comments provided. Additionally, I would allocate more time per team for this activity to allow more in-depth discussions.

  • Student Feedback

    Context:

    ClassEval for the Fall 2014 semester while I was a Technical Advisor for an entire section of Senior Design (CSC 429).

    Artifact:

    ClassEval student comments
    ClassEval statistics

    Reflection:

    In general, the anonymous comments provided by students were quite positive. Similarly, the scores they gave me were consistently above the average for the whole department. However, there are two things on which I would like to comment from this artifact. The first and most important one refers to the one negative student comment about pointing out flaws in front of others. I am usually observant of the ways my students refer to the material to identify if there are any misconceptions and try to ensure that everything is well understood by everyone. Based on this comment, I was clearly not effective at clarifying concepts on at least one occasion. From this point forward, I intend to be more careful when addressing these situations to make it clear that my intention is just to make sure that there are no misconceptions about the topics that are being discussed. Misunderstandings like this can ruin the effectiveness of my feedback not only during the interaction where this incident may occur, but for the rest of the semester. The second comment I would like to make about this artifact relates to the small number of responses on the ClassEval. Only 6 students out of 21 filled out the evaluations. While I am aware that participation in these instruments is usually relatively low, I intend to remind my students that I value their feedback and that I will pay close attention to their comments hoping to encourage their feedback.

Artifacts from the CSC UCAB Summer Practicum - Summer 2014

  • Seminar Implementation

    Context:

    This artifact incorporates topics from the PTP seminar "Effective Teaching with Technology" and the CoAT seminars "Active Learning" and "Learning Styles". After lectures describing the functionality of several hardware modules in the CSC UCAB Summer Practicum 2014, I incorporated activities where groups of students would immediately apply what was just described in the lectures. These were guided activities where general steps were provided. This artifact contains activities used throughout the entire Practicum.

    Artifact:

    Practicum Activities

    Reflection:

    Since the Practicum is only two weeks long, optimizing time is crucial. These activities proved invaluable to help students understand how to use the hardware modules fast. Additionally, students were able to ask specific implementation questions right away. At the same time, I had a chance to assess their understanding and to clarify any concepts as a group before presenting more advanced topics that build on top of previous material. These short activities were extremely helpful to move the course forward without sacrificing student learning of the fundamentals. After these activities, the students not only had a practical grasp of the theoretical concepts just explained, but they also had a working implementation that they could refer back to when needed.

  • Course Project

    Context:

    This artifact contains the final project I created for the CSC UCAB Summer Practicum 2014. For this project, teams were given the opportunity to create their own software/hardware solution using any combination of the resources available to them in the course (sofware, hardware, and infrastructure). Additionally, they were required to give a presentation, show a demo of their project, and write a project report. Students worked on this project for the last three days of the two-week Practicum.

    Artifact:

    Practicum Final Project
    Practicum Final Project Template

    Reflection:

    I am always impressed by the creativity of students. This exercise resulted in a wide range of solutions from multiplayer games to surveillance systems. By allowing teams to create their own solution I felt students felt more engaged in their projects. Additionally, since they felt they owned their work, they were really proud of what they were able to accomplish. Overall I consider this was a very valuable experience, not only for students but also for me as the instructor. Having students choose their own project requires them to consider multiple possibilities and reflect on the advantages and disadvantages of multiple approaches, which provides a richer learning experience than simply working on something that is imposed by the instructor. The presentations and demos also expose everyone to everyone else's ideas. The written component of this exercise also allowed them to practice how to communicate their ideas formally. I intentionally gave them a template of the report so that they could focus on the quality of the contents instead of on the structure, especially given the short amount of time they had to work on this project. By having all the reports follow a template also allowed me to grade all the projects more consistently, which is particularly important when all the projects are very different.