Travis E. Doom, Ph. D.

Teaching Statement

I am honored to have been twice nominated for the Wright State University College of Engineering and Computer Science Teaching Effectiveness Award. The kind words delivered during the presentation of my 1999-2000 award describe the realization of my teaching philosophy from the view point of my students and peers more aptly than I would be able to do so myself.

Teaching Philosophy

I believe that teaching style and presentation have a great influence upon student motivation and ability to absorb the content of course material. I am firmly of the opinion that educators who treat the classroom as a place in which they dole out predigested knowledge to note-taking students do a grave disservice to both the students and themselves. I have found that students become more actively engaged when course material is presented interactively and as a journey upon which the instructor is but a guide. This observation is particularly true in senior and graduate-level courses and seminars.

I feel that the fundamental difference between a computer scientist and a computer professional is the understanding by the former of the theoretical considerations implicit in any computational problem. A quality computer science education must not focus upon the simple instruction in programming languages, but instead upon the principles of sound engineering and upon the analytical measures of the impact of various computational techniques upon problem-solving. Such a focus requires that educators integrate the teaching of theory and analytical habits into every course taught. The field of knowledge encompassed by computer science is constantly changing. The central lessons to impart in lecture concern sound problem-solving techniques and measurement of their efficiency, rather than specific programming languages or computational techniques themselves.

At the graduate level, it is also vital to impart the ability to critically examine real research problems relevant to the course. Through the use of course projects and publications, students must be made aware of the importance of current research. To a greater degree than in undergraduate courses, educators at the graduate level must engender an atmosphere which allows group discussion and collaboration in the learning process. Such an atmosphere not only allows students to explore course subjects to the best of their ability, but also builds the students' confidence in their ability to critically review and propose new research problems and solutions and to judge their significance to the field. I feel that the development of this ability should be the underlying goal of graduate education.

Teaching Experience

I have been fortunate to have a number opportunities as an educator throughout my life. As an honors student in mathematics at Bowling Green State University, I was offered the chance to teach early in my academic career. A tightly structured mentoring program prepared and trained me to teach a section of the Department of Mathematics's service course, College Algebra . I continued to teach this course throughout my remaining years as an undergraduate as well as being offered the opportunity to teach the Office of Minority Affairs sponsored pre-calculus course for incoming minority honors freshman during summer sessions. This course was designed to prepare honors students from high schools without advanced mathematics programs for the rigors of college calculus. This course was the first placed completely into my hands, and it was at this point that I became dedicated to teaching the underlying principles of a subject rather than the simple mechanics necessary to pass examination.

Throughout my Masters program I served as a teaching assistant for the largest of Michigan State University's Department of Computer Science's service courses. I found the first year to be similar to my undergraduate teaching experience but gained new insights into educational theory, particularly on effective presentation styles for mass education. The second year afforded me the opportunity to become the course's lead teaching assistant for the course's 700 students and to learn to be an effective teaching mentor to the course's 12 TAs. During the processes of reviewing TA's performance and of attending university seminars on teaching, I became aware that different teaching styles are appropriate to different students, materials, and levels of education. Since that point, I have attempted to study educational theory when such opportunity presents itself.

Course Qualifications

I am qualified to teach the basic classes for the typical computer science, computer engineering, and electrical engineering programs as well as basic mathematics and physics courses. My areas of particular strength include bioinformatics, theoretical computer science, computer architecture and systems, digital electronics, telecommunications and networks, and parallel and distributed systems. With respect to theoretical computer science, I am especially qualified to teach graph theory, automata theory, stochastic modeling, discrete computational mathematics, basic numerical analysis, and formal logic. Research seminars that I have offered to graduate students include tools for design automation and logic synthesis. Future offerings may include high-performance networking and advanced microprocessor studies.

Dr. Travis E. Doom,

Last modified: 02/18/04