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Creating an Inclusive Learning Environment for Novice Students in STEM Fields

10 Dec
Monday, 12/10/2018 10:00am to 11:00am
Computer Science Building, Room 203
Special Event
Speaker: Tom Ongwere

Abstract: The environment inside informatics and computer science can often be harsh towards novice students. As such, the majority of these students do not have the confidence needed to make leaps and are not confident that they have a secure place in a group. To motivate and cultivate that confidence, in my teaching I strive to create real-life examples to remind my students--who are often of diverse backgrounds and socioeconomic status--the importance of their individual contributions. I use project-based learning methods to create memorable learning experiences that fill students with confidence. It is my philosophy that a student should be challenged to discuss ideas, learn from each other, and create projects that push them further in their careers. That being said, progress in these areas requires confidence to make bold intellectual leaps. I think that the learning environment should allow a student to make strides while learning from mistakes made as they progress.

In this talk, I will present a lesson on the topic of "Mathematical Induction," demonstrating how I create an inclusive and harmonious class environment. Further, I will discuss the importance of clarifying students' expectations, inspiring students to contribute, listening to students' suggestions, influencing the way students think, promoting collaboration, and using worthwhile tasks and examples, among other subjects.

Bio: Tom Ongwere is a fourth year Ph.D. student at Indiana University Bloomington (IUB) and the instructor on record for one of the core Informatics and Computer science courses. As an instructor, Tom is responsible for leading a team of eights teaching assistants (graduates and undergraduate). His research focuses on creating tools to empower often marginalized groups of patients, such as those with low socioeconomic statuses who also have Discordant Chronic Comorbidities (DCCs), a condition in which a patient has two or more chronic conditions with unrelated treatment plans or conditions that tend to conflict with one another. Tom is exploring, designing, and evaluating alternative systems to help patients with DCCs prioritize their treatment plans and communicate with multiple providers.

While at IUB Tom has served as diversity graduate assistant and as a mentor on various undergraduate mentorship programs including Research Experience for Undergraduate Students (REUs), Undergraduate Research Opportunities in Computing (UROC), the Center for Excellence in Women in Technology (CEWiT).

Tom has authored and co-authored publications in areas of personal health informatics and information technology for developments exploring strategies to support marginalized groups of people such as patients with DCCs, new mothers, and the unemployed youth. Tom often represents IUB at conferences that promote diversity and inclusion such as the Tapia conference in Austin, Atlanta and recently in Orlando Prior to joining IUB, Tom served as a teaching assistant for Introduction to Programming, Introduction to Oracle Databases, and Oracle Database Administration courses at Namibia University of Science and Technology. During that time Tom also served as a high school instructor for Physics, Mathematics, and Economic at Motacs College  (Namibia

Tom holds a Bachelor of Science degree in information technology from St. Lawrence University (Uganda), an Honors degree in Software Engineering from Polytechnic of Namibia MSc. Computer Science from Namibia University of Science and Technology (Namibia), and a master's in informatics from Indiana University Bloomington (USA). He is currently working on finishing his Ph.D. in the Health Informatics track, School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering, Indiana University Bloomington

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