Computer scientist Frank Takes Teacher of the Year
Students of the Science Faculty of Leiden University have chosen Frank Takes, researcher and teacher at the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science, to be the Teacher of the Year. Impressively enough, Takes also became the runner up Discoverer of the Year.
A jury composed of one student from each Leiden Science Faculty student federation has awarded Frank Takes as the Best Teacher of 2016. He receives the title for his two courses 'Social Network Analysis for Computer Scientists' and 'Business Intelligence and Process Modelling'.
'Clear material and communication'
Takes has worked at Leiden University for just three years now, after finishing his PhD. According to the jury, he has the ability and enthusiasm to pass on his knowledge. Furthermore, he is praised for his clear, newly developed course material and his clear communication. Takes is very happy with the award, as he says on the local radio (in Dutch). 'I love lecturing, so it is of course satisfying that students appreciate my efforts as well.'
We also talked to Frank Takes and gained a few insights into good academic education.
Developing very attractive computer science education doesn't seem easy. How did you do that?
'Students often find the theoretical aspects of computer science boring or difficult. I try to motivate the importance of these topics with examples from the real world. In my courses, students work with real data from companies and some social networks.'
LIACS, the Computer Science Institute, very much believes in small-scale education. What is the importance of personal contact with your students?
'It makes students feel comfortable and it strenghtens them in indicating to me which parts they find difficult. This, in turn, will tell me what to address more intensively. Both in groups and, when necessary, individually.'
Why is good education important in a research environment like the university?
'As a university, we educate young researchers, but also all academically schooled staff members of public and private organisations. The academic education you have received is, in my view, comparable with how you were brought up, but then with respect to content. It is useful for the rest of your professional life.'
Do you have any teaching advise for all your fellow researchers?
'Take up the state of the art of your own research field in your courses. As students may provide you with fresh and surprising insights, your research will gain from your lectures as well.
And: don't be afraid of renewing your education, and sharing with your students that it's the first time you do something. For example have your students peer review an article or, in my case, code review a programme. They will appreciate the fact that they are part of this process of renewal.'