Electrical and Computer Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

Teaching

This page currently contains my teaching statement as well as other teaching-related activities I want to highlight.

Teaching Statement

My latest teaching statement can be found here (HTML, coming soon) or here (PDF).

Teaching-Related Materials

Teaching Samples

Here are a few samples of my teaching and related materials:

  • guest lecture (YouTube) I gave for a Special Topics in Cryptography course at CMU on my recent work on smart contract-based improvements to the Web PKI.
  • sample solutions (PDF) for a problem set in 18-202: Mathematical Foundations for Electrical Engineering (Fall 2013).
  • a problem set (PDF) I designed for an Information Security course at ETH Zurich in Switzerland (Fall 2014).
  • a final exam (PDF) I helped design for a Network Security course at ETH Zurich in Switzerland (Fall 2105). This was a highly collaborative effort, and I only wrote a few of these questions, but I was responsible for updating the exam to the cleaner-looking format you see.
  • a sample syllabus (PDF) for a course design project I did (Fall 2013), which later became the basis for a new introductory security course I’m currently working on. This version is presented here for historical reasons.

Teaching Feedback

Unfortunately, the latest feedback I have on my teaching is from Fall 2013, as it was nearly impossible to collect feedback from students during my teaching assistantships in Switzerland. However, I’ve reproduced the salient parts of the feedback I do have.

This data was collected at the end of Fall 2013 for 18-202: Mathematical Foundations for Electrical Engineering. While the course had 93 students, only 44 students provided responses.

Numerical Ratings

These ratings reflect the following 5-point scale: 1 (strongly disagree), 2 (disagree), 3 (neutral), 4 (agree), and 5 (strongly agree).

  • Steve displayed an interest in my learning: 4.81
  • Steve answered questions well: 4.91
  • Steve was approachable: 4.91
  • Steve showed respect for all students: 4.95
  • Steve exhibited excellent teaching overall: 4.86

Written Comments

For written comments, I asked, “What is effective about Steve’s teaching?” Here are five representative answers I received:

  • Learning everyone’s name was the best start to the recitation and showed you cared.
  • I also liked that he explained how answers to problems were derived but also gave us the quick way to solve problems.
  • I really felt like Steve put a lot of time into the class, which made me want to work harder.
  • He paced recitation well, and I never felt “stupid” asking a question, because he was kind and receptive always.
  • He was very good about explaining why things worked, not just how they worked.

Teaching Portfolio

As part of the Future Faculty Program (described further down this page), I began developing a teaching portfolio fairly early in my graduate studies. This portfolio included:

  • an early draft of a teaching statement,
  • a summary of my teaching-related activities,
  • a summary of evaluation data from my most recent teaching assistantship (Fall 2013),
  • sample solutions for a particularly tricky problem set in my Fall 2013 TAship,
  • a sample syllabus for a course design project, and
  • a space for my completion letter for the Future Faculty Program.

Future Faculty Program

During my graduate studies, I completed the Future Faculty Program, offered by the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation at Carnegie Mellon University. As the completion letter (PDF) explains, the program consists of attending teaching seminars, receiving teaching through teaching observations or workshops, completing a course and syllabus design project, and completing a statement of teaching philosophy project. Below, you can find a list of my activities in each of these areas.

Seminars (in reverse chronological order)

  • Leveraging Diversity and Promoting Equity in Your Classroom. November 1, 2017.
  • Guiding Attention and Memory to Build Knowledge. October 10, 2017.
  • Leveraging Slides to Support Learning. October 9, 2013.
  • Working Well One-on-One. October 3, 2013.
  • Course and Syllabus Design. February 26, 2013.
  • Handling Problematic Student Behavior. February 19, 2013.
  • Assessing Student Learning and Providing Helpful Feedback. February 7, 2013.
  • Incorporating Writing in Your Discipline. January 31, 2013.
  • Motivating and Engaging Students. October 31, 2012.
  • Monitoring Your Teaching Effectiveness. October 3, 2012.
  • Planning and Delivering Effective Lectures. October 1, 2012.

Projects

  • Course and Syllabus Design Project: Introduction to Computer Security. October 3, 2013
  • Teaching Portfolio Project. December 20, 2013.

Teaching Feedback

  • Classroom Observation: Mathematical Foundations of Electrical Engineering (18-202). February 15, 2013.
  • Classroom Observation: Mathematical Foundations of Electrical Engineering (18-202). October 25, 2013.

Teaching Activities

Teaching and Learning Summit

On October 19, 2017, I participated in the 2nd Annual Teaching and Learning Summit at Carnegie Mellon University.

I listened to a fascinating talk on inclusive teaching strategies from the plenary speaker, Dr. Sara Armstrong from the University of Michigan. Although perhaps it’s better to say that the session was a group effort, as it involved a performance from the CRLT Players, a group that illustrates diversity challenges in academic institutions by acting out the scenarios.

I also attended a set of quick-fire talks which covered several interesting ideas.

In one talk, the speaker described her use of clickers in a large classroom, and we discussed not only the merits of using clickers, but also the challenges it provides for inclusivity. Particularly interesting on that topic is the following tradeoff: clickers cost a non-trivial amount of money (~$40), but using a smartphone app doesn’t necessarily solve the problem, because (1) the use of electronic devices like smartphones during lectures can be distracting to both students and the instructor, and (2) not everyone has a smartphone.

The next speaker described her method of teaching academic writing by actually having students write documents like grant proposals and then having students review them using NSF criteria. That approach seemed like a good way to train academia-bound students in skills that will be useful to them later on, though I’m not sure how it provides an inclusive environment for students not going into academia.

Another speaker described his use of Twitter as a way for students to microblog about examples of the course concepts they saw in real life (it was a course in Engineering and Public Policy, specifically about climate change initiatives). Again, we had an interesting discussion on the inclusivity (and privacy) implications that the use of Twitter has.

The final speaker described a statistical methods class that he designed, in which he really dug into real-life examples of poorly done statistical analyses in his field. It seems like many students learned a great deal of useful skills from his class.

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