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A collection of student comments and advice on first year teaching. This is probably the page that Dominique Cimafranca mentioned.

make the class interesting. Variety and surprise are key elements

I’m getting the hang of writing fun and interesting exercises. My class seems animated, and even the other CS21A classes try out my exercises and have fun.

true enthusiasm and a sense of pride for who and what one is teaching

I noticed this in student feedback from summer and from my talks. They pick up on the fact that I’m passionately into computer science and teaching, and even if they don’t understand everything I talk about, the fact that I talk about it enthusiastically cheers them up.

the importance of relating things to the real world.

I love doing this. Heck, I relate computer science to the unlikeliest of things – cooking spaghetti, giving directions, analyzing how things interact…

be organized and clear

I need to work on this a bit more. I list the objectives for each activity and I have follow-up questions. That’s a good thing – I didn’t really state them clearly before.

It is important to remember where students are coming from

I think I’m doing this pretty well. I know people in the introductory course come from wildly different backgrounds, and I take that into account when I help them. I must keep the academic ending point in mind, though. Next time, it would be nice to clearly post the ending point on the course webpage – the objectives of the course, essentially.

Stress and repeat key points.

Stress and repeat key points. Yup. I tend to say things several times, and I follow up with questions.

I think that you will find that the chemistry of your classes will be much better if you share something about yourself, and learn something about your students.

I don’t try to be “one of the gang”, but I like answering my students’ e-mail and sharing what I’ve learned.

Maybe I should go to class in borg gear sometime. =) Research.

need for genuine empathy

I need to remember to be somewhat demanding. But yeah, I know they’re doing a lot, and I help them catch up outside class time as well.

make adequate time for your students

A number of students feel comfortable with dropping by the department to ask for help. There are some I have not yet met outside class, though.

Be sure that tests, assignments, etc. are fair, valid, consistent and explicitly described.

I need to improve the clarity of my assigments, or I’ll risk some students giving up because the questions are confusing.

professors too seldom seek meaningful feedback.

Should incorporate more feedback opportunities. I love how they give me feedback through their journals; it helps me improve as a teacher and it allows me to find ways to better address their needs.

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