Prof. Wenbing Zhao
Cleveland State University, USA
Enhancing Communication with Students with a Teaching Method Based on Topical Guide Objectives
In this talk, I will introduce a novel teaching method called Topical Guide Objectives (TGOs), and report a case study on employing and adapting this method in a senior-level undergraduate computing engineering course. According to this method, course materials are divided into a list of TGOs. Homework assignments are given to students at the end of every lecture. The assignments are designed explicitly around the TGOs that have been covered by each lecture. Each TGO consists of a learning objective, a set of key-points and basic concepts, relationship between them, and one or more exercise problems. This new form of assignment encourages students to focus on key points and concepts they learned in the lectures, and learn how to apply them to solve complicated problems. Furthermore, this teaching method informs students which concepts are fundamentally important. It helps students understand the wording used on quizzes and exams. It also helps build up a positive relationship between students and the instructor such that students could focus on learning instead of testing. I found that the TGO-based teaching method was particularly effective in communicating with students that were less prepared and less motivated. Both grade-based and survey-based evaluations show that student performance increased significantly by focusing on learning instead of testing, by using clear written communication via homework assignments, and by applying constant pressure.
Dr. Zhao is a Professor at the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Cleveland State University. He got his BS and MS degrees from the Physics Department in Peking University. He earned his Ph.D. at University of California, Santa Barbara in 2002. He has over 200 peer-reviewed publications and the author of the research monograph titled “From Traditional Fault Tolerance to Blockchain.” Dr. Zhao’s research spans from dependable distributed systems, human centered smart systems, and engineering education. His research has been funded by the US NSF, US Department of Transportation, Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, Ohio Department of Higher Education, the Ohio Development Services Agency, and Woodruff Foundation. He has delivered more than 10 keynotes, tutorials, public talks and demonstrations in various conferences, industry and academic venues. Dr. Zhao is an associate editor for IEEE Access, MDPI Computers, and PeerJ Computer Science, and a member of the editorial board of several international journals, including Applied System Innovation, Internal Journal of Parallel, Emergent and Distributed Systems, and International Journal of Distributed Systems and Technologies. He is currently an IEEE Senior Member and serves on the executive committee of the IEEE Cleveland Section.