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JFTF Spotlight on Dana Zhang

Posted by on Thursday, February 16, 2023 in JFTF, News.

Each year, the CFT highlights the work of our Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows. This month, Dana Zhang shares about her goals and experiences as a Fellow.

In 2021, I joined Vanderbilt University as an Assistant Professor of the Practice in the Department of Computer Science and the Data Science Institute. Computer Science (CS) and Data Science (DS) are both interdisciplinary fields that have multiple intersections with almost every industry and have major impacts on day-to-day activities today. Given the increasing demand for practical CS/DS applications, in my teaching in both undergraduate and graduate courses, I strive to push students to acquire not only the fundamental knowledge but also practical experience that prepares them with transferrable skills.

In smaller classrooms, personalizing teaching and student learning comes with a higher degree of flexibility, which often results in a relaxed and safe environment for students to actively participate in class with questions, answers, and real-time feedback. In large-sized classes or group-oriented courses however, this approach becomes more challenging to realize. Through the JFTF program, I have been working on identifying concrete methodologies to better engage students in large classrooms and to more effectively facilitate conversations and interactions in team-oriented courses, where students come from a large variety of academic and professional backgrounds. It has been stimulating and rewarding to exchange strategies and ideas with teaching faculty from other disciplines through seminars, consultations, and other JFTF program activities. I look forward to working with the CFT in my journey to disseminate knowledge and expertise in and outside the classroom.

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