Brotman Award "Reflective Statement"

Ed Lazowska, Professor and Chair
Department of Computer Science & Engineering

Spring 1999

Computer Science & Engineering is honored to have been nominated by Dean Denton for the inaugural Brotman Awards for Instructional Excellence.

CSE’s educational efforts are shaped by a four-point philosophy:

Our educational efforts and approaches follow directly from these principles. We strive to create the best possible educational experience for our students – one that benefits from, and that benefits, our position as a top-ten research program. We invest in our introductory courses because knowledge of computing is fundamental to success in the modern world, and because these courses are the "attraction waters" for our major. We aggressively recruit, advise, tutor, and mentor students, because we want a diverse collection of the University of Washington’s finest students in our program, and we want these students to succeed. We encourage our undergraduates to work alongside faculty and graduate students as TAs, because this benefits both the students taking the courses and the students who TA them, and creates a "learning community" that extends from the youngest student to the oldest faculty member. We similarly encourage our undergraduates to work alongside faculty and graduate students as RAs, because this is one of many ways in which these students benefit from the unique type of education that only a research university can provide. We facilitate co-op and internship employment because, if properly integrated, it teaches the students things that are complementary to those they learn in our program. We constantly introduce new "Capstone Design Courses" (many of which are interdisciplinary) because our field is advancing at a remarkable pace, and because these courses provide an unparalleled opportunity for students to synthesize what they have learned throughout their studies. We employ a wide range of "carrots" to encourage outstanding teaching, because encouragement and example work best: a departmental TA award, a departmental faculty teaching award, nomination of faculty and students for University and national recognition, quarterly student evaluations and annual peer evaluations for all faculty, quarterly circulation of a histogram of student evaluations for faculty and for TAs, and more. We invest aggressively in educational technology because it allows us to reach a broad audience of students and citizens, and because we believe that ultimately it will change the nature of education, allowing faculty members to spend more of their time doing the things that only they can do.

That, in fact, is our overriding objective: to do the things that only we can do, and to do them as well as they can be done.