As I start each class, I like to learn a little bit about my students and
their expectations for the course so that I can both know and teach them
better. Since I'm asking you to prepare answers to this survey, it is
only fair that I prepare my own.
- Samuel A.
- Where are you from?
I was born in Newton, MA, a suburb of Boston. Since then, I've lived in
Chicago (11 years), New Hampshire and Maine (4 years), and Iowa
(over 5 years).
- What courses are you taking this term? Please include the meeting times.
Also note that I like course names in addition to course abbreviations.
During Spring 2002, I'm teaching
CSC151, Fundamentals of Computer Science I (MWF 9:00-9:50, Tu 10:00-10:50)
CSC362, Compilers (MWF 11:00-11:50 plus labs on Tuesdays).
You can also
consult my schedule
for more information.
- Tell me a little bit about your background with computers.
Hmmm ... I may be too old to remember. We had an Apple ][ when I
was in high school. When I got to college, I quickly became
enamored of using the school's computers (a DEC-20 running Tops-20
and an Amdahl running MVS) and ended up as a computing assistant.
Since that time, I've gone on to take and teach too many courses
in computer science. These days, I like to work on Macintoshes
and Unix (and Linux) boxes. I've never become comfortable with
Microsoft Windows. And even after all that background, I still
get frustrated with these things.
- Why are you taking this course?
I teach CS151 because (1) I enjoy teaching;
(2) I value
the chance to meet prospective CS majors early in their carrers; and
like meeting teaching both majors and nonmajors and CS151 usually
provides a nice mix.
- What do you expect to gain from this course?
New perspectives (every group of students provides some new perspectives).
- What are your biggest concerns for this course?
- That I'll be overwhelmed by the time constraints.
- I realize that it is quite early to ask, but do you intend to
continue taking computer science courses after you take this course? Why
or why not?
- I intend to keep teaching CS courses for many years to come.
- What do you like most about Grinnell?
- The small, relatively informal, atmosphere.
- What do you dislike most about Grinnell? (If you don't dislike
anything, what do you like least about Grinnell?)
The isolation. When I have free time (not too often), I
like to rummage through used book stores and the cheapo bins
at record stores. While we have a used book store, I miss
the cheapo bins. (And no, the Internet is not the same,
although I'm finding the used book services addicting.)
What is the best course that you've taken at Grinnell so far? Who taught
the course? What made it good? (Although I have tenure, I'm always
trying to find out what makes a course or teacher stand out.) If you
haven't taken any courses at Grinnell, tell me about your best high
Believe it or not, but I've enjoyed teaching most of the courses I've
taught at Grinnell. It's hard to choose a favorite. In most of them,
I've had enthusiastic and intelligent students who were also generally
nice people. I love CS, so I find most of the topics interesting
(although I have some preferences for introductory courses).
My favorite teacher
in college and graduate school was probably Gerald Mast, who taught film.
Mast really knew his subject and also was less willing than any other
professor to let me get away with sloppy writing. I probably teach
most like Paul Sally in Math, although he might be surprised to hear that.
Most surveys like this ask you to list your five favorite books, movies,
TV shows, CDs, chia animals, buildings on campus, professors, or whatever.
I'll give you a littl emore freedom. Pick a class of objects (it can
be one that I listed, it can be one that I didn't list), and list your five
favorite objects in that class.
Top Five Ways to Spend Time:
1. Spending time with my wife (Michelle) and children, William (7),
Jonathan (4), and Daniel (1).
2. Reading. These days, I tend to read modern fantasy and a variety
of types of nonfiction.
3. Cataloging my record collection (much too large).
4. My research projects, which seem to be endless time sinks.
5. Preparing for my courses (yes, it's a time sink; it's also one
that I enjoy).
- Tell me a little more about yourself. You might describe hobbies,
interests, goals, whatever.
I'm 38, which some of you seem to think is relatively young and others
of you think is relatively old. My wife, Michelle, and I have been
married for fifteen years (to the day on the day I wrote this response).
We have three children, William, Jonathan, and Daniel.
I may be one of the least organized people you ever meet. Take a look
at my office later this semester, and you'll understand what I mean.
I love teaching (and also very much enjoy doing research
on hypermedia systems) and have found Grinnell a great place
What other questions should I have asked on this form? (You don't
have to come up with any; I just like to find ways to improve my
If I could think of other questions, I would have added them.
Since I'm asking you all of these questions, it's only fair that
you get to ask me some questions. What, if anything, would you
like to know about me?
Why do I bother filling out these sample answers? Does anyone read them?
Thursday, 24 August 2000
Monday, 10 January 2000
- Updated for Spring 2001. New courses, new reasons to teach them,
added Tigger note.