Two Combinatorics and Optimization students, John Irving and Richard Hoshino, recently received "Distinguished Teaching by a Registered Student Awards".
Richard Hoshino is an undergraduate student registered in Combinatorics and Optimization/Teaching Option. In the Spring 2000 term, Richard taught CO 380 (Mathematical Discovery and Invention). This was his co-op job placement.
Richard chose to teach CO 380 in a very hands-on way. With his presentation style, he was able to make mathematics topics interesting and challenging while creating a comfortable classroom atmosphere that empowered students. Students commented that Richard approached the course as the “Tour Guide” leading them through “Tours” instead of lectures. Each “Tour” involved discovery and problem solving by the students instead of the standard blackboard/example style of lecture. Students commented that he presented the topics with enthusiasm and excitement. Richard was always trying to make the students feel self-confident. A good way to empower students, according to Richard, is never saying “no” or “that’s wrong”. He would often tell the students that the problem they just solved was on the 1965 Canadian Mathematics Olympiad Test (one of the toughest tests around).
John Irving is a graduate student in the Combinatorics and Optimization Department. John has taught undergraduate courses on five occasions while a graduate student in C&O. Total enrollment in the five courses was 505.
John is enthusiastic, lively, humorous, and interesting. He uses imaginative examples to get concepts across to students. Often, he would simply take a break at the end of a Calculus lecture to tell a funny story. One student commented that “he made the walk to class worthwhile”. Several times John, as an instructor and a teaching assistant, has provided an extra session of review prior to the final exams. Since the review session usually attracts many students from other sections, an amphitheatre needs to be booked. These review sessions last as long as the students have questions. One nomination letter notes that, on at least one occasion, the session lasted more than six hours.
John is extremely conscientious about his teaching, always prepared, and often spends many hours outside class explaining the material to students, in his office or at specially arranged review sessions. Students nominating John Irving felt that “he is the perfect candidate for the Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Registered Student”.