Enrichment of the Education Program at the University of Aizu

By Subhash Bhalla, Associate Professor of Database Systems Lab

With many recent changes in Information Technology (IT), the availability of information is increasing. Many of these changes are being brought by improvements related to IT as a process. Such a pace of change also affects the education programs, which need to modernize to keep up with the changing times. Periodically, improvements in teaching methodologies are also needed to be considered. With the main idea of enriching the education experiences of the students at the University of Aizu, a working group (WG) on ``Teaching and load balancing" was formed with William L. Martens as chairman with S. Bhalla and Hiroshi Toyoizumi as members. The WG attached importance to the following three items:

  1. Additional support to increasing the comprehension in the classes for students though exercises, practice and learning materials;
  2. Improvements in teaching efficiency by balancing teaching duties of each individual faculty member; and
  3. Defining the requirements of teaching load in quality and quantity.

During the discussions on the topic many faculty members pointed out that ``for each admitted student, it becomes essential for the university to ensure that the student can overcome all or any weaknesses and become proficient in his or her studies". It was also agreed by common consensus that computer science was an 'always fast-changing science'. For these reasons, the teaching contents need to be more practice oriented, and that these need to be modernized regularly.

Other than the faculty discussions, to gather an opinion from the faculty, a survey was conducted. It indicated that the teaching load of each faculty member needed to be balanced. Some faculty members were of the opinion, that if some of the faculty members were overloaded with excessive load, it may have a negative affect on the quality of teaching. The committee proposed a criteria for balancing the teaching load of individual faculty members, considering the total teaching load requirements within both - the graduate school and the under-graduate teaching program. In addition the working group recommended an elaborate requirements' list for individual courses offered by faculty. It proposed that each faculty member needs to clearly state a plan and contents of the course, as well as an evaluation criteria, in advance for the benefit of the students.