T.A. Encourages Curiosity, Abstract Thinking

Educator Says Students Should Ask Questions to Learn

July 27, 2009

Anastasia Kurdia ultimately sees herself using her computer science expertise to develop advanced medical technology. Her students, on the other hand, simply see her as a great educator. In fact, they recently voted her as the best teaching assistant in the computer science program in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.

“She’s enthusiastic, yet patient, gives attention to detail and doesn’t leave any question unanswered,” wrote one student in nominating her. “She also has a friendly attitude and always greets students with a smile.”

Greg Ozbirn, a senior lecturer in computer science, was equally impressed by her performance as TA for his operating systems course.

“She was conscientious about her work and students could tell she cared about them,” he said. “The grading was carefully done, and any questions were carefully explained. She also demonstrated a positive attitude and encouraged the students she worked with. She took the job seriously, she was easy to work with, and she maintained high standards. All of these, I think, are reasons for her to receive this award.”

Kurdia is pursuing a Ph.D. in computer science and expects to graduate next spring. Her doctoral research deals with computational geometry and algorithms for medical applications. But wherever her career takes her, she hopes to continue combining research, teaching and mentoring.

“Above all, I like to see students grow, to think at an abstract level and gradually develop their creativity and analytical skills,” she said. “The exceptional quality of the UT Dallas computer science program has given me many chances to observe such progress in students, and its reasonable size allows me to play an active role in the educational process.”

Helping her students learn to think, she said, means something more than just helping them master the knowledge and skills of their discipline.

“If you ask me, ‘What does it mean to think?’ I’ll say, ‘Thinking is asking questions,’” she added. “No matter the subject, I’m trying to help my students learn to ask themselves the right questions and independently seek answers to the questions life presents them.”


Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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Anastasia Kurdia was recently named the best teaching assistant in the computer science program in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.  “Above all, I like to see students grow, to think at an abstract level and gradually develop their creativity and analytical skills,” she said. 

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