Computer Science Special Seminar Series

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Teaching Special Seminar: Max Fowler, "Effective Teaching at Scale: Frequent Small Tests, Copious Practice, and Centering Student Support"

Event Type
Illinois Computer Science
wifi event
Feb 13, 2024   9:00 am  


The evergreen popularity of computer science as a degree, and accompanying student enrollments, necessitate effective instruction at scale that meets the dual goals of appropriately assessing student achievement while also supporting students’ success as people first. Over my years of teaching and research experience, it has become clear that a key strategy for accomplishing these goals is to build a course around small, frequent assessment and copious amounts of practice opportunities.
In this talk, I discuss my experiences with conducting such a course and how it aligns with my teaching philosophy. I will discuss how my own research work and the work of my colleagues has influenced and will continue to influence assessment and course design. Further, I discuss some peer learning techniques and how some effective lecture still has a place in large classrooms, in the context of learning common programming patterns in Python. These techniques are readily extendable to other courses, especially those which involve programming language learning.
The talk also includes my reflections on how to administer courses and manage course staff such that students have their needs centered in an equitable, accessible way. Good pre-planning of policy, with accessible avenues for student support, can go a long way to reducing the struggles of students in crisis.
My talk concludes with a look forward: what do I hope to bring to the University of Illinois as teaching faculty and how do I hope to further evolve my teaching in service of our department’s community.

Max Fowler is a PhD candidate from the University of Illinois and formerly lecture staff at Purdue University Fort Wayne. His primary research focus is on how best to conduct large-scale, fair assessments and support instructors in producing and grading the items necessary for such assessments. Additional research interests include investigating the impacts of department policy in the broadening participation in computing (BPC) space. Max has been a CS educator for 8 years with teaching experience running a breadth of the curriculum, particularly in the space of learning specific programming languages, data science, and HCI. In addition to research and teaching, Max has long been involved in outreach efforts through camp and summer program development and teaching, as well as in-service teacher training through the development of courses to teach teachers.

Faculty Host: Abdu Alawini

Meeting ID: 895 2693 4261; Password: csillinois

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