Gitner Award for Innovation in Teaching with Technology: Past Awardees

2023 Gitner Award Winner

Renato Mancuso, of the Department of Computer Science

Renato Mancuso (left), assistant professor of computer science in the College of Arts & Sciences, receives the 2023 Gitner Family Award for Innovation in Teaching with Technology from University Provost Jean Morrison at the Celebration of Teaching, Research & Scholarship on April 25, 2023.

In a field as complex and rapidly evolving as computer science, Assistant Professor Renato Mancuso recognizes the importance of keeping students engaged in class and motivated toward continual improvement. So, as part of his Fundamentals of Computing Systems course, Professor Mancuso designed a novel new piece of technology, CodeBuddy, that allows students to see the success of their coding in real time, understand where they and their classmates have hit snags, and, in turn, create a sense of community.

Through CodeBuddy, Professor Mancuso’s students submit coding for programming assignments via a web-based interface and instantaneously receive feedback on any failed test cases and why they failed. Using anonymously assigned nicknames, the program beams results onto a leaderboard in front of class, enabling students to see how common the problem they are facing is and share insights they have gathered toward finding a solution – while also establishing healthy competition. The program has been a home run with students, who appreciate the camaraderie it helps create in a challenging field. “He made ‘the hardest [computer science] required course for majors’ the most enjoyable course,” one student shares. It has proven equally beneficial for Professor Mancuso, helping him adjust the pace of lectures and difficulty of assignments accordingly while freeing up teaching fellows from reviewing and grading code and allowing class sizes to increase to meet demand.

CodeBuddy’s potential isn’t limited to computer science, and Professor Mancuso has developed a roadmap outlining features that position it for integration into any class with large programming assignments. To support his colleagues, he co-authored a free online textbook that provides flexibility for instructors to tie class concepts to specific software applications. Writes one nominator: “It is not an overstatement to say that Renato’s creative design, implementation, and deployment of that system transformed the students’ experience and contributed significantly to their learning outcomes.”

2022 Kathleen Vandenberg, of the Division of Rhetoric
2021 Binyomin Abrams, of the Department of Chemistry
2020 Abbas Attarwala, of the Department of Computer Science
2019 Rosina Georgiadis, of the Department of Chemistry
2018 Charles Merzbacher, of the Department of Film & Television
2017 Amber Navarre, of the Department of World Languages & Literatures
2016 Gerald Fine, of the Department of Mechanical Engineering
2015 Paul Blanchard, of the Department of Mathematics & Statistics
2014 Bennett Goldberg, Pankaj Mehta, Andrew Duffy and Manher Jariwala, of the Department of Physics

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