ASU

This simple page serves as a dashboard or central reference point for all of my ASU-related activities. Is it still under development? Oh, yeah.

Philosophy

Thoughts on how to best connect with students in the classroom and ensure long-term learning.

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

—Benjamin Franklin

In no particular order, I strive to abide by the following principles in my classes:

Active Learning

As the quote above evinces, I believe in the importance of active learning. Along these lines, I try to minimize the number of pure lectures. Sure, sometimes they are necessary, but as much as I can I develop interactive exercises designed to teach and reinforce critical thinking.

Technology and Experimentation

Second, I believe in experimentation. This doesn’t just mean in new types of exercises. In my relatively short time at ASU, I’ve introduced new tools in the classroom such as WordPress and Slack. I’m particularly fond of the latter, as are some of my more progressive colleagues.

To quote Steve Hogarth of Marillion, “Technology is wonderful when it isn’t in the way.” As I write in Message Not Received, sometimes the best way to address a problem involves having a conversation in person, not via new tchotchkes.

Staying Current

I also believe strongly in staying current. This means integrating tech- and data-related news stories into the classroom.

Being Interesting

Next, I believe in being interesting. I pepper my lectures with pop-culture references and quotes from movies, songs, and obscure books. (A stats professor mine at Carnegie Mellon did the same when I was a sophomore and I appreciated the effort.)

Personal Interaction and Effective Communication

I believe in personal interactions—not e-mail. (Yeah, my three-e-mail rule applies in academia as well.) I’ve never arrived late for a single class at ASU and I’m usually 15 minutes early. I’m almost always able to stay after class and speak with my students or set up a time to talk outside of my normal office hours.

I believe in the importance of communication. More than four in five employers describe “the ability to effectively communicate in writing” as very important (PDF). Having the right answer doesn’t mean much if you can’t write and speak well. No, I’m not an English teacher, but I don’t let bad grammar and poor writing slide. We can all improve our writing and speaking skills—including yours truly. Rather than just criticize, though, I routinely offer constructive feedback.

Transparency

I also believe in transparency. I create detailed rubrics for my each of my assignments. No, they aren’t recipes or listicles—e.g., the five things that you need to do to get an A. Rather, they are guideposts.

Grading and Timely Feedback

I also believe in timely feedback. Many of my students are surprised at how quickly I grade their papers and exams. It’s not uncommon for my grades to start trickling in later the same day. I can’t imagine taking more than a few days to grade my students’ work.

Critical Thinking

You read it on the Internet. So what? That doesn’t make it true. The era of Big Data means that the ability to question claims, sources, “facts”, and assertions has never been more important—a trend that shows no signs of abating.

To this end, I routinely stress critical thinking in my courses. I often ask questions of my students that necessitate thought and even more questions.

Learning Should Never Stop

The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.

—Aristotle

I believe in constant learning. Sure, I know a thing or six, but it’s impossible for someone to know everything about any subject—and that includes technologies, programming languages, industries, companies, software-development methods, etc.

I’m a big fan of curiosity, self-improvement, and self-awareness. Professors can and should learn from other professors and their students. I teach some pretty smart cookies and I can’t think of a reason not to try and learn from them.

Courses

Below you can find links related to the courses that I teach.

Full-Semester, On-Ground

laptopCIS440: System Design Capstone

Course in a nutshell: This course covers traditional project-management methods and contemporary methods such as Agile, Scrum, Lean Startup, and DevOps. Over the course of the semester, students build a useful technology solution for their clients. This typically involves a mobile app, a database, or a website.

For more information, click on the links below:

iconCIS450: Enterprise Analytics Capstone

Course in a nutshell: This course explores the practice of modern analytics with a particular emphasis on Agile methods (read: Scrum). Over the course of the semester, students work with organizations on real-world projects. This typically involves data and statistical analysis, data visualization, scraping data, and more.

For more information, click on the links below:

Half-Semester, Online

CIS405: Business Intelligence

I teach this course originally developed by my friend Alan Simon. Cue the music.

CIS450: Enterprise Analytics Capstone

I developed this course in the Fall of 2017. I prepared all of the materials and recorded all 32 lectures.

Phil should be the role model for expected behavior from staff at W. P. Carey. He is very respectful to students. He engages his students and communicates well. He has been my favorite and most exemplary professor throughout my undergraduate curriculum.

—Former student

Related Posts

Thoughts on learning in the classroom and beyond.

Student Evaluations

Along with several ASU honors students, I am working on a interactive data visualization that will easily allow anyone to see my evaluations by class and semester. It should be ready by November of 2017. I suspect that we will create the final product in either Tableau or d3. It should be pretty, pretty, pretty cool.

If you want to read what some of my students have said about my courses and me, click here and here.

This is the best professor that I have had at ASU. His class is challenging and involves critical thinking. He is able to teach in a way that allows the material to be fun to learn.

—Former student