Aravind Ranganathan

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Teaching Portfolio


Last updated: March 10, 2010.

Teaching Statement:

Teaching has always fascinated me. I attribute it largely to the several wonderful teachers I have been fortunate to have studied under, right from kindergarten though graduate school. I realized early that the best way to master something is by teaching it. An academic career has always been an attractive option for me and my interest in teaching and research was what prompted me to pursue a direct-PhD degree following my under-graduation.

Teaching style:

I believe that the success of a teacher is ultimately determined by his students. A good teacher not only successfully imparts the subject knowledge to his students but also inspires them and contributes to their overall development. My personal teaching style is based on a combination of the following key principles, which I consider essential for effective and successful teaching.

Model your teaching approach to suit the course. It is essential to employ different teaching techniques depending on the course. For example, a higher graduate level course may benefit from classroom discussions and student presentations while a basic undergraduate level course with a large number of students needs mostly classroom lectures.

Motivate students with the broader impacts of the subject. An understanding of the day-to-day applications of what they are studying as well as knowing how the course will help their career will motivate and stimulate the students’ interests in the course.

Engage the students. Lectures, assignments, homework and all course activities must be designed so as to keep the students engaged inside as well as outside the classroom.

Be organized and well-prepared. The course must be planned and well organized ahead of time and students must be made aware of the course expectations at the very beginning.

Set realistic goals for students; be fair and impartial in evaluations. It is important to assign a reasonable course load to the students and also to ensure that the assigned homework and exams, while challenging, are not unduly difficult. It is equally important to have a transparent grading policy and to resolve grading issues at the earliest.

Heed to diversity needs in the classroom. Students have different learning techniques and their own strengths and weaknesses, which adds to the existing diversity in the classroom. It is essential that the diversity needs are given due consideration while teaching the course.

Promote an ethical and principled education. It is also the responsibility of the teacher to educate the students about the significance of ethics and honesty in their careers and in life.

Maintain a friendly but professional relationship with students. While a teacher must be available and approachable so that students feel free to discuss their doubts and problems, a professional relationship must always be maintained.

Learn from the students. It is important to treat the students with respect and to be open to their comments and suggestions.

Teaching interests:

I enjoy interacting with under-graduate as well as graduate students and am open to teaching under-graduate level and graduate level courses in the areas of computer networking, wireless networks, algorithms, data structures, programming and network security.

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Relevant Teaching Experience:

My teaching experience includes the several workshops I have taught at the Engineering Library of the University of Cincinnati (Sep 2007 - Mar 2010) and the several courses in the Computer Science Dept., for which I was the Teaching Assistant (between Jan 2005 and Jun 2007).


  1. RefWorks for Engineers [Slides]
  2. LaTeX [Slides]
  3. IEEE, ACM & INSPEC [Slides]
  4. Knovel [Slides]
  5. SCOPUS [Slides]

Courses (TA):

  1. Advanced Algorithms I
  2. Design and analysis of Algorithms II
  3. Digital System Design
  4. Advanced Programming Concepts
  5. Network Security
  6. Introduction to ECECS (Lab)

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Student Evaluations and Sample Feedback

I have consistently received a strong and positive feedback for my teaching as well as my TA work. The following gives a summary of the official feedback for the workshops I have taught at the Engineering Library (since 2007).

Attendees from 36 different workshops (taught by me) were surveyed, and of the 300 attendees, 146 (about 50%) responded. In the survey, the attendees were asked to give a rating from a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 indicating "Extremely Poor" to 5 indicating "Excellent") for the following questions:

  1. How clearly were the workshop objectives stated?
  2. How well did the class meet the listed objectives?
  3. How well-paced was the instructional program?
  4. How well suited to your instructional level was the presentation?
  5. How well did the workshop meet your personal objectives?
  6. Overall, how effective was the workshop?

The survey also included other questions where the respondents could give more detailed comments on the workshop and/or the instructor, and provide other suggestions for the workshop.

The received feedback indicated that an overwhelming percentage of respondents gave a rating of 4 or 5 (Good / Excellent) for the above questions. More specifically:

  • Over 98% for the question "How clearly were the workshop objectives stated?";
  • Over 94% for "How well did the class meet the listed objectives?";
  • About 85% for "How well-paced was the instructional program?";
  • Over 91% for "How well suited to your instructional level was the presentation?";
  • Over 88% for "How well did the workshop meet your personal objectives?";
  • Over 92% for the question "Overall, how effective was the workshop?"

Survey Summary

Additional notes on the workshops:

  • Intended for the faculty and students across all depts. in the College of Engineering.
  • Designed to meet the requirements of the majority of this very diverse group with varying skill levels and personal objectives.
  • Attendees were primarily graduate students but also included undergraduate students, faculty, and staff.
  • Attendees were also not just from the College of Engineering but from other disciplines such as Physics, Mathematics, Psychology, Accounting, etc.

A more detailed summary of the evaluation statistics is available here.

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Sample Course Syllabus:

  • 20 CS 471: Design & Analysis of Algorithms I [pdf]

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Relevant Coursework:

Preparing Future Faculty in Engineering Program:

The courses that were part of the Preparing Future Faculty in Engineering program are listed below.

  • 20-ENGR-952—Modern Teaching Techniques.  Students discuss the basics of creating course content, managing a class, and interacting effectively with students.  Topics covered include learning styles and Bloom's taxonomy.  Each student creates a syllabus and related materials for an undergraduate course they are likely to teach in the future, for inclusion in a Teaching Portfolio.  Weekly seminars are run by students, with guidance from faculty facilitators.  Emphasis is given to active learning styles. 

  • 20-ENGR-953—Mentored Teaching Experience.  Each student in this course works directly with an assigned faculty mentor to develop their teaching skills.  Students spend a minimum of 10 hours in classroom teaching and other appropriate activities, supervised by their mentor.  1 credit hour.

  • 20-ENGR-954—Advanced Teaching Techniques.  This continues the examination of issues addressed in "20-ENGR-952: Modern Teaching Techniques".  Additional topics covered typically include managing student projects and teams, teaching leadership, incorporating practical ethics into the engineering curriculum, concept maps, effective mentoring, teaching evaluations, ABET accreditation, and preparing proposals and doing research in engineering education.  The discussions are guided by faculty facilitators and by guest speakers with specific expertise in the various topics.

  • 20-ENGR-955—The Academic Profession.  Students research opportunities for academic jobs in a variety of institutions, practice presentation skills, and prepare application materials, including a Teaching Portfolio.  Issues important to junior faculty are also discussed.  Several panel discussions, featuring both established and beginning faculty from nearby institutions, are held.

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