Herbert A. Simon Award for Teaching Excellence 2021School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh PA 15213-3891 (412)268-8525 . (412)268-5576 (fax)
## Interaction and SuspenseDavid P. Woodruff
I teach two very different classes at CMU - a small Algorithms for Big Data class with about 20 students, and a large Algorithm Design and Analysis class with about 200 students, but the same principles apply to each: (1) always be patient and respectful to all students - each question of each student was either a question I had at some point or a question I should have had at some point, (2) prepare as much as possible - time your lectures, find ambiguities on your slides, try to predict any question a student might ask, watch previous lecture recordings, scrounge the web for related material, (3) remember, a class is like a free fall - it's not just lecture, recitation, and office hours, it's complete immersion; be a non-stop piazza-answering machine, and always provide emergency roadside assistance to anyone who needs it.
In terms of style, I try to make my lectures interactive and rival the suspense of a thriller novel. I ask multiple questions on each slide, and try to have the students tell me the next step in each of the mathematical arguments. A perfect lecture is one where the students are very engaged and I am just pressing the clicker and they are doing most of the talking. Every once in a while there is a step that is hard to predict, even after some thought, and that is when those Another technique I like for increasing student engagement is to clearly convey proof intuition. A presentation technique I am fond of is providing a series of incorrect, natural approaches that one might try when first solving a problem. This allows me to relate to the student's thought process, and allows the student to better appreciate how a proof was conceived. Let me give a shout out to Anupam Gupta and Danny Sleator for teaching me how to teach. Also, many thanks to all the wonderful TAs and especially the students I have interacted with at CMU - I hope you have learned as much from me as I have from you.
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