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Suzan Verberne

For computer scientist Suzan Verberne, empathy is the most important characteristic of a teacher. ‘Because as a teacher, you often don’t know the personal stories and struggles of individual students. Especially in thesis supervision, I always keep in mind that the thesis is more important for the student than for me. And that if they struggle, this might be because of external circumstances. So I always try to be supportive.’ In addition, flexibility is important, Verberne feels: ‘Because we sometimes need to adapt our lectures to the audience, and our communication style and expectations to the individual student.’

‘Empathy is important, because as a teacher, you often don’t know the personal stories and struggles of individual students.’

Verberne is good at putting herself in the shoes of the students. ‘Although I am very much excited about my own research and teaching topics, I realise that the majority of the students is not as excited as me. Their most important incentive to come to the lectures is that they want to pass the course, and eventually graduate.’ Therefore, her primary goal during lectures is that everyone in the room can follow the explanations ‒ ‘even with complex and abstract topics,’ she says. ‘My secondary goal is to get students excited for text mining because there is so much work to be done in the field, both academically and commercially. The field is moving forward rapidly and I enjoy taking students along in these developments.’ Her students confirm the latter: ‘She always focuses on how you can deal with real data, and she even addresses real problems in the exam questions.’

Nominated for the courses: Text Mining | Data Mining | Bachelor's class

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