Seminars & Colloquia

Adam Gaweda


"Teaching Computer Science with a "Beginner's Mind""

Tuesday February 08, 2022 09:30 AM
Location: 3211, EB2 NCSU Centennial Campus
Zoom Meeting Info
(Visitor parking instructions)


Abstract: Inspired by martial arts, I have used their philosophies as a template for teaching Computer Science. One philosophy, "beginner's mind", suggests treating each experience as if you were a novice - including the wonder from learning something for the first time. This also means as an instructor recognizing that students are still beginners learning CS. Each student begins their learning from a different position as a result of their previous and ongoing life experiences. As a consequence, not every student may be well equipped to quickly learn a new concept. In order to learn a concept requires practicing and refining techniques that can then be utilized "in the wild". The inability to demonstrate newly acquired skills can create a discouraging "fear" that dissuades the student from trying again. This "fear" can further discourage continuing their learning pursuits, because students may perceive their inability as incompetence. Thus, practice means providing the opportunity to establish students' foundational understanding of a concept, refining their ability to demonstrate the concept, providing them with applications of the concept, as well as opportunities to explore. Practice can take many forms through novel learning opportunities and, especially for struggling students, lower-level practice to help establish their foundational knowledge.

During my talk, I will present my teaching philosophy, my views on the students, the instructor, and the classroom, as well as examples of my work. Finally, I will present a brief teaching demonstration on Image Processing in Java which could be included as part of a CS1 or CS2 course.
Short Bio: Adam Gaweda is a Ph.D. student at NC State University. His current research interests are in Computer Science Education, where he is looking into novel techniques for teaching computer science topics. He holds a Master degree in Computer Science and Information Systems from UNC-Wilmington, where his primarily research focus was in facial and gesture recognition. In addition, he holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Theater. Prior to attending to NC State, Adam was a Lecturer at UNC-Wilmington and Lead Software Development Instructor for Cape Fear Community College. Outside of academia, Adam has been training martial arts for 12 years (Second degree Black Belt in Aikido and Purple Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu). He's also been hit by a truck.

Host: Sarah Heckman, CSC

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