Brian Dean wins award for innovation in teaching
Brian Dean, an associate professor in the School of Computing, is the winner of Philip Prince Award for Innovation in Teaching.
The award recognizes outstanding faculty members who demonstrate creative and novel teaching methods and is named for former Clemson President Phil Prince.
“I’m honored at having been chosen for this award, and, more generally I’m thrilled to work at an institution like Clemson that provides such strong institutional support for excellence in teaching,” Dean said.
Dean’s award was announced at The Victor Hurst 124th Academic Convocation. It was presented by Joey Wilson, a bioengineering major who is Clemson’s undergraduate student body president.
“Dr. Dean is one of the most highly-regarded teachers in the School of Computing, and I believe there are many innovative aspects of his teaching that make him a strong candidate for this award,” Wilson said after the ceremony.
Dean was nominated by Amy Apon, chair of the Division of Computer Science in the School of Computing. According to the nomination materials:
- In his teaching, Dean makes use of electronic “whiteboard lectures” that he produces using software he wrote and recently updated with a new version. He makes the program, LectureScribe, available for free, and it has seen strong use at other educational institutions.
- Dean provides solutions to every one of the programming exercises in his class in the form of animated videos, explaining his thought process as he writes code.
- He has three recent publications in top conferences on computing education, and one of his recent homework assignments was selected for discussion in a recent workshop on “making mathematical reasoning fun.”
- Dean customizes his assignments for students. For example, he uses a list of their favorite restaurants to build a “recommendation system” that can suggest new restaurants for them to try.
- He has helped innovate teaching in other courses, such as building a novel online circuit tutorial system for a bioengineering course (BioE 3700).
- Beyond the innovative aspects of his teaching, Dean is one of university’s strongest teachers in general, Wilson said. Last spring, he won the prestigious Order of the Tiger, the top award given to a member of the Clemson community by student government, for going above and beyond the norm in his support of students in his classes.
- Dean’s profile on ratemyprofessors.com highlights how his students feel about his teaching. They leave not only glowing comments, but have also given him a quality rating of 4.5 out 5 and a difficulty score of 4.4 out of 5. The combination shows that his students appreciate his teaching despite the challenging nature of his classes, Wilson said.
- Aside from his courses at Clemson, Dean volunteers a tremendous amount of time doing educational outreach. Most notably, he directs the USA Computing Olympiad (usaco.org), which provides online educational materials and programming competitions that thousands of students worldwide have used to improve their computational problem-solving skills.
Eileen Kraemer, the C. Tycho Howle Director of the School of Computing, congratulated Dean on the award.
“This award is testament to the hard work and dedication he puts into meeting the needs of his students,” she said. “He has found innovative ways of teaching computer programming, a critical skill as society becomes more interconnected and reliant on information technology. The award is well deserved.”