SVSU rates teaching performance on a 1-to-5 scale, with 1 being a perfect score. That’s the opposite of RateMyProfessors.com.

The graph above shows history of my teaching performance on just one of the criteria, “Student Self-Reported Learning.” Below is a annotated graph. After I finished my dissertation, my teaching performance worsened. Why? Two reasons. First, my research was noticed and I traveled to Washington, DC, and Kauai, Hawaii to present it. I cut corners in cis355 and it showed. See table below graph below. Second, I did a lot of service work, too much maybe, in the winter of 2016. That semester is a definite outlier in my overall performance.

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Below is a more detailed table of the data. Green cells indicate near-perfect teaching performance. Yellow cells indicate fairly good performance, but with room for improvement. Red cell indicate clear room for improvement.

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I feel great about cs403 (Android programming) and cs461 (theory of computation), brand new courses which I developed in fall 2015. My teaching performances in those courses were both solid green. In fall 2017 I plan to write companion textbooks for both courses. I believe I can make meaningful contributions to teaching, and the study of teaching, of those topics.

I feel fairly good about cs116, but still I may be able to improve my performance. The big problem with cs116 is the diversity of student preparedness for the course. Take a look at the charts below. These represent typical grades for cs116. As you can see, about 50% of the students get A’s and 20-25% get F’s. (Not exactly a bell curve, is it?!)

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The reason there are so many F’s is because cs116 teaches a language, Java, and like any language even spoken languages it largely comes down to practice. Whoever has the most hours of experience wins. It is not easy to get high student ratings in a class where 20-25% of the students fail. However, I have found that by spending more time with the students their learning accelerates and this might lead to higher self-reported learning scores. This is what Moe Bidgoli does and I plan to follow his lead.

I also might be able to improve the grading. I just reorganized my course to make grading a lot easier. Fast high-quality feedback might help improve self-reported learning scores. Quick and easy grading is also essential because I am overloaded, teaching 4 courses this winter 2017, two cs116s and two cis355s.

Speaking of cis355, this is my biggest challenge. The course takes a lot of time, which is why it is easier to get a high score in the summer, when I can focus 100% of my time on that course alone. My goal this coming semester is to maximize teaching efficiency. There’s just no substitute for spending more time with students. There does not appear to be a magic bullet for face-to-face teaching. Historical results show more time teaching equals higher self-reported learning scores.

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