November 2011
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Teaching Consultation

A couple weeks back I substituted as the TA for a discussion section. I was recorded on video, which was reviewed by the Teaching, Learning, & Technology Center. Here are some notes about educational techniques that I took during the consultation session:

Hand out small whiteboards to the students, and ask relatively easy questions, with […]

Deliberate Practice in Programming

The easiest way to improve your working habits and skillset is by deliberately practicing. For example, according to The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance (1993, Psychological Review) what separates elite players from average players is (a) the regularity of practicing in your daily schedule and (b) the skills/techniques that your […]

Learning the Abstractions

Since much of programming is about creating and manipulating abstractions, it figures that a large amount of education is going to be about leaning those abstractions. Things like classic data structures, the useful sloppiness of O-notation for algorithm analysis, and Design Patterns. But how should we introduce these things to our students?

Should you teach […]

Object Oriented Compiler Architecture

Out of some curiosity, I quickly read this paper today:

The Object-Oriented Architecture of High-Performance Compilers, Lutz Hamel, Diane Meirowitz and Spiro Michaylov, Technical Report, Thinking Machines Corporation, 1996.

Even though they assume that the compilers internal representation is some kind of AST, the underlying lessons are worth communicating, and are applicable even if your […]

Strong Typing for Security

I got into a mild argument about static vs. dynamic typing. I recognize that static typing can be verbose to the point of being repetitious. Take Java generics for example:

List<String> astr = new ArrayList<String>();

There really isn’t a great reason why the compiler can’t infer the type of the variable on the right hand […]

Teaching-Oriented Faculty at Research Universities

The Communications of the ACM has put out an interesting piece about the treatment and role of faculty who wish to focus on teaching more than research. This viewpoint article, Teaching-Oriented Faculty at Research Universities, includes comments from people I’ve worked with, but who remain anonymous in the article itself.

The unifying characteristic of […]