Andrew Petersen

AndrewPetersenPresident's Teaching Award 2015

Andrew Petersen is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mathematical and Computational Sciences at the University of Toronto Mississauga and the Director, Teaching and Learning Support and Innovation at the Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre. He completed undergraduate work in computer science and mathematics at the University of Tennessee Knoxville in 2001 and earned a M.Sc . in Computer Science at the University of Washington in 2003. At the University of Washington, Andrew developed compiler technologies for dataflow architectures, taught his first course, and became fascinated with computing education.

At the University of Toronto, Andrew teaches courses ranging from introductory computer science to upper year operating systems, networks, and compilers. In his courses, he is committed to fostering a supportive environment where students learn through activities and small group discussion. He believes that people learn most effectively in a learning community, that feedback is critically important to the learning process, and that the most successful learning experiences are those that help students develop expert behaviours. His efforts in the classroom earned him UTM's Teaching Excellence Award in 2012.

Andrew also supervises a large number of independent research and development projects -- over 50 in 8 years. These long-term, large-scale projects provide students with an opportunity to develop professional skills and behaviours. Currently, he and his students are developing the Programming Course Resource System (PCRS), an online environment that allows instructors to post content modules that include videos, text, multiple choice questions, and automatically evaluated programming exercises. PCRS has been used in nine computer science courses at the University of Toronto (reaching over 4400 unique users in 2014-15) and is the foundation for an Ontario Online module development grant from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. PCRS also serves as a platform for undergraduate computing education research.

Andrew’s research focuses on improving introductory programming courses. He views engagement in research as an effective method for improving the quality of his teaching and finds research questions and projects in his courses. His 2010 paper with Dr. Rebecca Bates, “Implementing Social Learning Strategies: Team Testing”, resulted from exploring methods for getting students engaged in peer learning activities. The paper won the ASEE's National Best Zone Paper award. His current projects include mining of data collected from PCRS exercises and evaluating the impact of assessment on group programming projects.

Since 2012, Andrew has also served as the Director of the Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre (RGASC). At the RGASC, Andrew is responsible for employing the Centre's resources to encourage innovative teaching practices and to support the development of foundational academic skills in courses across the UTM campus. He is currently focusing on supporting faculty teaching in Active Learning Classrooms and supporting the assessment and growth of UTM's facilitated study, writing, and numeracy programs.