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Best Practices and Teaching Tips to Improve CS Education

Dan Garcia
Thrusday, November 3, 2011
3:00 p.m., 1000 SEO Building

Abstract: Heading link

This talk will bring together the common themes of three presentations from recent SIGCSE conferences aimed at improving computer science education.

* “Passion, Beauty, Joy and Awe : Making Computing Fun Again” panels
* A collection of great (but often overlooked) teaching tips
* The best practices and lessons learned from surveying the ?introductory courses at the top 25 CS programs in the US

Attendees are encouraged to bring their own teaching tips to share, as well as any “Big Ideas” for improving computer science education globally.

Bio: Heading link

Dan Garcia is a Lecturer with Security Of Employment (SOE = “tenured” teaching faculty) in the Computer Science Division of the EECS Department at the University of California, Berkeley, and joined the Cal faculty in the fall of 2000. Dan received his PhD and MS in Computer Science from UC Berkeley in 2000 and 1995, and dual BS degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT in 1990.

He is active participant in SIGCSE (having presented every year since 2001), and is currently working with the Ensemble computing portal project. He serves on the ACM Education Board, the Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles Advisory Board, and is the faculty co-director for BFOIT, a wonderful Berkeley K-12 outreach effort.

He has won all four of the department’s teaching awards:
* the Diane S. McEntyre Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2002, * the Information Technology Faculty Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 2004
* the EECS outstanding graduate student instructor award in 1998, and
* the CS outstanding graduate student instructor award in 1992.

He was also chosen as a UC Berkeley “Unsung Hero” in 2005. He recently earned the highest teaching effectiveness ratings (6.7/7) in the history of the department’s lower-division introductory courses.

He has taught (or co-taught) courses in teaching techniques, computer graphics, virtual reality, computer animation, self-paced programming as well as the lower-division introductory curriculum. He is currently mentoring over seventy undergraduates spread across four groups he founded in 2001 centered around his research, art and development interests in computer graphics, Macintosh OS X programming, computational game theory and computer science education. He recently co-developed a computing course for all freshman engineers, as well as a full course renovation of the venerable introductory computing course for non-majors, “CS10 : The Beauty and Joy of Computing”. This redesign earned a “Bears Breaking Boundaries” curriculum design award, a Lockheed Martin broadening participation grant, and was chosen as one of five national pilots for the new Advanced Placement Computer Science : Principles course.

On the fun side, he can dance DDR level 7, play the harmonica, juggle 5 balls, score in the low 90s on the links, spin things on his finger and knows all the words to many old-school raps, stand-up comedy bits and Monty Python sketches. He also has a collection of several hundred game and puzzle books, and terribly enjoys sharing good brain teasers or playing any one of his many exotic board games with students who drop by during open office hours. Don’t get him started telling jokes…

His wife Tao is also a UC Berkeley Computer Science alumni, and is finishing up her PhD at the University of Melbourne in the CUBIN centre (remotely, thankfully!). They have a 5-yo son Yuan (pronounced like U.N.) and a 2-yo daughter Talia (pronounced like “Italia” without the “I”).