Professor Gerth Stølting Brodal receives the Teaching Prize 2022
His teaching is entertaining, witty and structured in equal measure, and he has won the award for Lecturer of the Year three times at the Department of Computer Science. Now Professor Gerth Stølting Brodal receives the Aarhus University Anniversary Foundation Teaching Prize 2022.
Gerth Stølting Brodal researches the design and analysis of algorithms and data structures, mainly in relation to massive data algorithms – in other words, getting computers to create overviews of and retrieve useful information from huge amounts of data.
His other priority is giving his students the necessary overview to make computers create useful information on their own. Including students from completely different subjects.
In fact, many of his students don’t come from his own department. Or faculty, for that matter. A lot of them come from Arts.
Yes, because several prospective upper secondary school teachers from Arts have mathematics as a supplementary subject, and mathematics students make up a large part of the target audience for Gerth Stølting Brodal’s course ‘Introduction to Programming with Scientific Applications’ – a course he developed from scratch.
“The upper secondary school teachers of the future are important because they are going to educate our children. Students who study mathematics as their elective are typically more academically challenged by the ways of thinking in the course than those who have mathematics as their core subject, so it’s important for me to ensure their academic outcome. I really try to do that – especially at the study café, where I talk to a lot of students. I’m motivated by connecting with the students, by challenging them and seeing how they improve academically,” says Gerth Stølting Brodal.
His course also attracts students from other departments at the Faculty of Natural Sciences, and Gerth Stølting Brodal appeals to their different competences by including assignments in his teaching that deal with relevant issues from areas like chemistry and data science.
He has won the prize for Lecturer of the Year three times at the Department of Computer Science and he has also won a competition organized by the student organisation TÅGEKAMMERET three times, ironically entitled ‘The World’s Most Boring Lecture’.
Gerth Stølting Brodal’s popularity as a teacher is also due to his lectures being both entertaining and structured, so the students get an overview of and access to all the resources they need at the beginning of the semester on Brightspace.
At least these are some of the things that one of his former students from the School of Communication and Culture, Pernille Brams, praises him for in particular.
Admittedly, Pernille Brams is not going to become an upper secondary school teacher. She studies cognitive science with mathematics as an elective and has already got a foot in the door at a large software company.
“Gerth was the first teacher to upload the timetable, way before the beginning of the semester. And with a super-structured layout. Lectures, assignments and all resources we might need were just there. Exam papers from previous years were available right from the beginning,” says Pernille Brams.
She adds that Gerth Stølting Brodal uploaded all of his lectures during the Covid-19 lockdown – and has continued to do so, which makes following the course more flexible for students.
“And then he’s just talented at teaching. He has an agenda when he comes to the lecture and he shares his knowledge in an entertaining and enthusiastic way,” she says.
For a number of years, Gerth Stølting Brodal has been the chair of the Committee on Education at the Department of Computer Science and has been a strong driving force in improving education and reducing the dropout rate among the department’s students.