Two days ago I received the good news that my doctoral consortium paper “Digital Capital – A Platform for Computational Thinking” was one of the three selected for an outstanding paper! It is a great feeling to be recognized for the work that I have done 😀 The next step now is to rewrite the paper into a mini-position paper. I am still waiting for more information on what that means in practice.
I have now gained a bit more teaching experience from being a lab assistant in a programming course and this is what I have learned:
- There were students who had a hard time understanding the description of the assignment. The students got frustrated before they could even start coding because they thought that the assignments were not clear enough.
- Because of the students’ lack of experience, it was easy for them to get stuck on a (seemingly simple) problem for a long time. One of the common problems that would not make the code work as planned is indentation.
- The display of different emotions in a programming lab is fascinating. It is always nice to hear the student cheering and high-fiving each other when they have managed to solve a programming problem. Seems to me like programming causes strong positive and negative emotions. This is probably because programming is difficult and it requires a lot of grit and effort to learn and understand programming.
- There were quite some misunderstanding about the role of “import” – the students didn’t understand why it was necessary to use e.g. “import os”, and they didn’t understand what “os” stands for.
- Lastly, I have noticed that it is hard to really understand local vs global variable when the names of the local and global variables are the same. This in combination with e.g. omitting return and/or print. I have experienced that it is easy for the students to forget that there must be a return value from a function, which is understandable as it is not exactly “natural” or could be easily associated with anything else they have done before.
It has been way too long since my last blog post. I have been thinking that I should take some time to write but I have been very busy lately.
Good news: Our Frontier in Education paper “What Computing Instructors Did Last Summer: Experiences and Lessons Learned” has been accepted for publication 🙂 I will travel to Indianapolis between 18-21 October to present the paper at the conference. This will be my first presentation at a major international conference since I started my Ph.D. studies. I feel excited (and nervous) but I’m sure that with good preparation all will go well!
Before the summer holiday I have been working as a teaching assistant in a course called “Independent Project in Information Engineering”. My main responsibility in the course was to help to correct students’ project reports. It has truly been a valuable learning experience on how to give good feedback to the students, as well as how to encourage students to give constructive feedback to each other. I have also improved my knowledge on how to make a good poster, as well as how to present the poster in the best possible way with limited time at hand.
For me, the best part about being a teaching assistant is that I learn a lot of new things myself. I believe one can never stop learning, no matter how far you have come in your career. I really enjoyed working with the students as well. They were very ambitious and open to learning new things. I can tell that they have learned a lot during the course and their progress made me proud, and motivated me to become an even better educator.