Diane Horton

DianeHortonPresident's Teaching Award 2015

Diane Horton is a Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Toronto. She earned a BSc (Honours) at the University of Western Ontario and an MSc at the University of Toronto. She joined the Department of Computer Science as a faculty member in 1993 and served as Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies from 2002 to 2007.

Diane has earned the admiration of students and faculty alike for her enthusiasm and passion for teaching and learning. Her record of teaching excellence is supported by several teaching awards including three Computer Science Student Union Awards (1994, 1996, and 1997), and the Joan E. Foley Quality of Student Experience Award (2006).

In the early years of her teaching career, Diane redesigned the Introduction to Computer Science course, and set a high standard for quality of course materials and teaching. She quickly became known among students for openness, clarity of explanations, and sound advice on academics, careers, and life. In 2002, Diane spearheaded a comprehensive review and revision of our undergraduate computer science curriculum. She orchestrated broad consultation, involving every faculty member, and, over the next two years, oversaw the implementation of the new curriculum.

As a leader in undergraduate education, Diane championed the development of a strong group of teaching-­‐stream faculty. She was heavily involved in hiring, mentorship, and setting the quality standard for members of this cohort. With her guidance and mentorship, the teaching-­‐stream faculty in the Department of Computer Science have grown into a cohesive group of innovative educators who are influencing computer science education nationally and internationally.

As Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies, Diane created many co-­‐curricular opportunities for students that have radically improved the quality of student experience in the department. These include, among others, the alumni career mentorship program which matches students with alumni for advice and guidance on the choices students face as they begin their careers. These programs are going strong; for example, this year 70 students were paired with alumni mentors.

Diane has also played a key role in developing initiatives to increase undergraduate participation in research and to build students’ research skills. She recently co-­‐created a program to augment the undergraduate summer research experience with weekly talks given by the students, mentorship from graduate students, and a culminating poster showcase.

Diane’s current focus is once again on her classroom. After experimenting with inverted teaching, she recently redesigned the third year Database course to incorporate a mixed style of teaching, where new material is presented both before and during class, and all lectures incorporate active learning activities. She has also been investigating the use of exam "wrappers" to aid students in reflecting on and learning from their graded work. Diane is actively pursuing research studies to evaluate the impact of these and other innovations in the classroom.