Teaching Approaches

Applying a Peer-Instruction Teaching Approach

Peer-instruction has been proven to be a very effective way of teaching and learning strategy. In some courses, we recruit undergraduate students who performed well in the previous semester as teaching assistants. This approach will be good both for the students who work as teaching assistants and their fellow students. They will help the instructor during the lab sessions and answer questions from their fellow students during their weekly office hour. The students in the class may easily access the teaching assistants and feel comfortable about asking questions.

Emphasis on Both Theory and Technical Practice

Each course will have lab sessions to give the students hands-on experiences. First, theory is covered so that the students have an overview of the field and understand the importance of the projects they will work on. In the next stage, techniques and tools are introduced through many types of demonstrations in the computer lab. Then students do exercises on their computers under the guidance of the instructor. Teaching assistants help the instructor during the lab session to provide help to the students on an individual basis.

Integrating Research into the Undergraduate Courses

It has been proven that students can develop research skills and an interest in science by attending a full-time research program. Doing research is a great way of learning how knowledge is created and of obtaining a deeper understanding of fundamental concepts. On the other hand, for many reasons, not all students who want to attend a research program have the opportunity to do so. Therefore, if students can have the opportunity to have the hand-on research experience by attending some courses with a research component, they may achieve the similar goal.

Delivery the Contents in Multiple Level Courses

Teaching different computing components in multiple courses at various levels, from foundation, introduction courses to more advanced senior level courses; We develop a series of computer and information science course modules and integrate them into a number of existing health science courses. All these updated courses are required courses in the program and therefore no extra burden will be added to students. These course modules are designed with assistance from a professional instructional designer.

Jointly Teaching Each Course by Two or More Faculty Members

All the courses/modules are taught by two or more faculty members: one is familiar with computer science or information science and the other is from a health science field. The faculty members will learn from each other and eventually one of them will be able to teach the course with enhanced computing components alone.

The participating faculty members in this project are from many different areas, including computer science, information science, computational biology, education, epidemiology, mathematics, and health information management. Each of them will provide his/her expertise to this project by teaching one particular module and will guide students to perform some small-scale computational research projects when applicable.

Field Trips

Field trips are arranged for students to visit computer or biology laboratories at University of Pittsburgh when they are relevant. During the field trips, students will learn how those technologies they learn in the books work in a lab, how the data are produced, and what are the technical and scientific challenges in that particular field. Field trips will allow the students to gain a deeper understanding of the concepts they have learned in the lectures and to apply this understanding in their projects.