RIO GRANDE – University of Rio Grande professor Dr. Alisa Neeman has been recognized for her work of finding new ways to teach computer science.
The Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges Northeastern Region Conference has accepted her paper, “Buy One Get One Free: Automata Theory Concepts through Software Test,” for publication. The piece is a computer science education paper about methods for teaching computer science. Neeman said it is for a theoretical, or mathematical, course she teaches.
“Rio is very much about getting the skills you need. One of these practical skills you learn as a programmer is how to test your program and to make sure when users put in certain input it doesn’t break,” Neeman said. “Students don’t always know what they need to test when writing programs, so I did a lot of reading and thinking about software tests. I found this theoretical way of thinking about what inputs you need to test. I thought why don’t I use the testing to explain the theory instead of using the theory to explain the testing.”
Neeman submitted the paper to the conference where it was selected to be printed in the Journal for Computing Sciences and Colleges. She presented the paper at one of the organization’s conferences in April. Neeman said she was excited to have the paper approved because she has not written anything similar in her teaching career.
“This is my first paper since joining Rio and my first Computer Science Education paper, so it’s another big milestone for me,” Neeman said. “I taught software design and learned how difficult it can be for students to write tests for their programs. When I taught Theory of Computation for the first time, things started to fall together.
Neeman said she is grateful to her classes for allowing her to test her hypothesis though her teaching methods and giving her feedback for her research.
“I love working at Rio because the classes are very small and you can immediately see whether or not your lesson plans are working. It ends up being a lot of fun for me and my students seem to like it too,” Neeman said. “Having that interpersonal reaction with the students is amazing. They have a great attitude.”
Neeman published five previous papers before joining Rio in 2012 and said she is excited to share her latest work.
Jessica Patterson is a communications specialist with the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College.