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A few comments from grade six to eight girls who participated in my Girls @ Virtual Ventures workshops:
- Before, I knew nothing about computer engineering, and thought it was, essentially, like the stereotype: being stuck at a computer. Working 12 hour shifts. But computer engineering is actually an awesome job, and I am now really interested. You work with numbers, and I love numbers, as well as everything else. I thought computer engineering would be boring. It’s actually AWESOME! I loved it.
- I liked the activities she made us do and the power point presentation she made.
- I learnt many things about computer science such as when you work in computer science you don't always need to be on the computer.
- I was surprised on how many other opportunities there are when you study computer science.
- I liked the fun and interesting way she explained the things she was telling us.
- All the things you can do with computer science has much more variety than I imagined!
- …the mentors used simple, direct language with good explanation on professional vocabulary.
- …computer science really is interesting.
From the counselors of the Girls @ Virtual Ventures camps I did my workshops in:
- Gail had prepared a wonderful presentation which entailed many aspects of the computer science field. This includes how it is to be a student in the program, the opportunities available as well as the gender ratio difference within the field. In addition, there was a good mix between presentation time, video clips and in class activities. She was able to relate well with the children and kept their interest throughout her presentation. By having her participate, it enriched the girl's experience and provided them with a good role model. We were very happy to have her participate within our program. (2010)
- Girls@VV is a summer camp that focuses on promoting female involvement in engineering, science, and technology. For several years now, Gail Carmichael has been a valuable mentor in this program. Gail is consistently enthusiastic and generous with her time, preparing and delivering numerous presentations to our campers throughout the summer. Gail’s presentations are always well-received: she has a great rapport with the campers, and continually adds new content to keep her presentations fresh and relevant to the audience. Girls@VV sincerely appreciates Gail’s continued support of our program: she is an excellent mentor who adds tremendous value to our program. (2011)
- I found your presentation really informative. I think the game that you did really enforced what you were talking about, and ... interactive games like that are best for these age groups. The discussions are a good idea as well, because it allows the girls to expand more about what they know about computer science. (2013)
From one of the volunteer supervisors of the IBM EXITE camp for girls:
- On Wednesday, August 11, Gail Carmichael spent the day with thirty 11 to 13 year old girls who were participating in the IBM EX.I.T.E camp. The goal of EX.I.T.E is to expose girls to information about science and technology, and the university field trip is an extremely important part of our line-up of activities. This was the first time that I attended the Carleton trip as one of the volunteer supervisors and I came away thoroughly impressed.
Gail gave the girls a great overview of the field of computer science and highlighted the wide variety of careers open to a computer science grad. She ran two activities: the first was a pirate map game designed to teach the girls about finite state machines and the second was a battleship game that illustrated various methods of image representation and searching. In addition, Gail participated in a lively discussion with the girls about the basics of university life, scholarships and the importance of course selection and getting good grades in high school. She was approachable, enthusiastic, engaging, and highly entertaining. Gail's passion for computer science and for higher learning was contagious and sent an truly powerful and important lesson to the campers.
Selected comments from a survey filled in by the girls at the end of my week-long mini-course Computer Science and Games: Just for Girls! when asked what they liked best:
- It revolved around a subject that I like.
- The part I liked best about this course was learning all about 3D, AI, how they made Avatar. Basically all the information we learned. It was all so interesting. Also, learning how to use Scratch, and design & make our own video game. I Loved It ALL! =)
- Learning about the different softwares and what they do, about how a lot of women are involved in computer science.
- I loved how we got to get our games to come to life it was a really great time!
- I had a Blast! Thanks so Much! =D
Selected comments from official end-of-term teaching evaluations for COMP 1406: Introduction to Computer Science II (Winter 2015):
- It's been a wonderful semester! I enjoyed learning C++ and Java. Still loving the Poll Ev questions, I find them very useful. :)
- I really enjoy the weekly assignments, helps focus on specific concepts easier as opposed to a larger assignment. I also really enjoy the live coding and find it helpful.
Selected comments from official end-of-term teaching evaluations for COMP 1405: Introduction to Computer Science I (Fall 2014):
- Good Job! I have taken computer classes in highschool where I learned nothing about programming when I should have. This course has greatly increased my understanding on computer programming. Thank you.
- I like the class very much. I found it easy to learn despite not knowing any programming beforehand.
- Great teacher very approachable.
Selected comments from official end-of-term teaching evaluations for COMP 1406: Introduction to Computer Science II (Fall 2014):
- I really love how you have a mix of theory related and coding assignments as it helps me to better understand concepts. ... All in all I thoroughly enjoyed the class.
- I really love how you focus on concepts as opposed to syntax.
- I did really love the passion you evidently have for programming and especially for women in the field. I loved the class, thank you so much!
- This year the class structure was perfect!!!
Selected comments from official end-of-term teaching evaluations for COMP 1001: Introduction to Computers for Arts and Social Science Students (Fall 2014):
- I learned a lot and will be signing up for more COMP courses. Gail is extremely helpful, and can simplify the material to be understood very well. I hope to have her as a professor in future years. Thanks!
- Overall, I think she is an enthusiastic professor and she helped with my transition to university by making us feel comfortable.
- Activities were ... informative and equal parts fun.
- Loved "poll everywhere" questions.
Selected comments from official end-of-term teaching evaluations for COMP 3007: Programming Paradigms (Winter 2014):
- Great Prof. , listens to student feedback, very clear in imparting the course material through various methods (giving extra problems to solve, extra readings to understand concepts, and especially challenging/encouraging the class to answer questions to problems in class.
- The assignments were really well made; just the right amount of work, very little ambiguity, and even some room for creativity. I like that you gave us 4 quizzes instead of a midterm, as it made the workload more even and let us learn the material in smaller chunks.
- I like that she is very visual and does live code examples in class. Her assignments and quizzes are very fair.
- I really enjoyed this course. I thought you taught it really well. I truly feel like I understand the concepts in this course, not because I have to do extra readings, but just by attending each class and listening to your lectures. You break everything down and make concepts easy to understand, and you always know what you are talking about, and even when you don't you always go beyond what is expected of you by doing your own research after class and informing us.
- I am also very pleased that there are some in-class discussions and voting for question answers; it really engages the students.
Selected comments from informal survey conducted at the midpoint of COMP 3007: Programming Paradigms (Winter 2014):
- The professor is very engaging and easy to approach.
- Professor is always excited about teaching. Having quizzes spread throughout the year is much preferred to writing one heavily weighted test.
- You're very friendly and seem to want to engage everyone with the lectures.
- I like how the instructor explain things slowly to make sure everyone understand the concept.
- The professor is very passionate about the topics.
Selected comments from official end-of-term teaching evaluations for COMP 2401: Introduction to Systems Programming (Winter 2014):
- Thank you for a great semester. First time taking a class that you taught and I very much enjoyed it.
- Great class taught at a good pace so I wasn't left behind. Also good at giving out of class resources. Especially enjoyed the fairytales used to explain certain tough concepts.
- I would like to thank you for making C so easy to understand with your creative examples, and by taking your time to make sure we understood the concepts. ... thank for making this class very fun and interactive and easy to understand.
- I really enjoyed this class. I believe you communicated the concepts well throughout the course. Being a beginner programmer, I was able to keep up and rarely felt lost. I thought your teaching style is effective, and I particularly liked the poll everywhere exercises.
- The subject material can be quite difficult to grasp, and I think she did a great job overall in conveying the knowledge required to understand the concepts.
Selected comments from informal survey conducted at the midpoint of COMP 2401: Introduction to Systems Programming (Winter 2014):
- Gail is very enthusiastic and conveys the material in an effective way.
- awesome teacher
- The way Gail teaches. She is so enthusiastic, she inspires a lot.
- I think this is the best comp course I have ever taken.
- It has been very easy to understand the concept due the in class activity and discussion. I think the current way the course is being taught is great...
Selected comments from official end-of-term teaching evaluations for COMP 1006: Introduction to Computer Science II (Winter 2014):
- Fantastic prof, very helpful, patient and enthusiastic. ... I couldn't ask for a better teacher for such abstract material.
- I love this course, it made me want to switch to a degree in computer science.
- You make the material more interesting to learn
- Definitely one of the most accommodating Professors I've had ... Manages to thoroughly teach huge amounts of course material in a very small amount of time while maintaining clarity and straightforwardness.
Selected comments from informal survey conducted at the midpoint of COMP 1006: Introduction to Computer Science II (Winter 2014):
- I like the overall feel and attitude that is brought to the class. It makes things more lively and keeps me engaged despite the long review stage (for me). I very much like how you (the prof) take a step further to bring in code and/or additional information that is unique and effective.
- I have learned more about programming in this past year then I could have ever thought.
- Everything being taught is very clear.
Selected comments from informal survey conducted at the midpoint of COMP 1005: Introduction to Computer Science I (Fall 2013):
- The teacher has been amazing and fun, and the actually questions and stuff we were asked to do have been a blast to complete.
- The professor's energy and enthusiasm about the subject is infectious.
- I feel very comfortable with professor Carmichael way of teaching. Her framework is solid and consistent. She really left everything clear and unlike most teachers she always goes back to concepts and topics explained before to make sure everybody does the right relationship between them.
- You're attitude and positivity towards everything makes the class fun although I really do not like the material.
- Professor Carmichael is a friendly and helpful professor.
- Professor has great enthusiasm
- Friendly teacher, very engaging
Selected comments from official end-of-term teaching evaluations for COMP 1001: Introduction to Computers for Arts and Social Science (Fall 2013):
- Prof Carmichael is so great. She obviously loves the subject and does a really great job explaining all the concepts and providing real-world examples.
- I enjoyed this class very much. ... I thought this was a very practical class and I will likely use much of what I learned during my career. Thanks!
- You are a great prof! You are very approachable and it's nice to have a prof that isn't so formal....makes the learning environment more fun and relaxed. Thanks so much for the semester, all the best! :)
- Thank you Professor Carmichael for the wonderfully useful things that I learned during this class.
- Overall Gail is a very good prof. She really cares about her students.
- Really great teacher, always was available for help
- Well spoken, easily approachable, and very helpful.
- Probably one of the nicest professors I have had the pleasure of being taught by over the course of my 4 years at Carleton. Has a genuine passion for the field, as well as a genuine understanding and sense of caring for her students. Makes learning the content easy and intuitive, responds to emails and questions promptly and always willing to help and provide extra assistance. Thank you for a great semester!!
- Thank you for making this class enjoyable and fun for everyone! I have really enjoyed learning about every aspect shown in this class and I will most likely take another computer science class in the future!
- Very patient prof. Really good class, very informative and easy to follow.
- She is an amazing professor who is very good at engaging the audience and very good at breaking down the information into clear steps that are easy to follow. ... Thank you for a good semester and I hope you keep teaching because you are one of the best there is!
- it's so amazing to see your love for programming,computer in general. thank you for a challenging yet memorable semester!
Selected comments from informal survey conducted at the midpoint of COMP 1001: Introduction to Computers for Arts and Socials Science (Fall 2013):
- You have been an amazing professor an I enjoy the enthusiasm in class!
- I really enjoy the visual and hands on way that you teach the course. The examples and poll everywhere questions are very helpful in my learning process and testing my knowledge.
- I really enjoy the analogies used in class. They have really helped me learn the material.
- I find it very interesting and it is just challenging enough to keep me wanting to learn. I have friends who have previously taken this class with another teacher and really didn't like it but I have found Gail to be good at explaining concepts and takes her time to make sure we all understand. She is also very enthusiastic about the topics and you can tell she loves what she does which makes it very easy to learn from her and pay attention.
- I enjoy your passion for this subject, and the fact that you actually enjoy teaching it to us.
- I enjoy how enthusiastic you are about the course. It helps me feel like what I'm learning is important.
- You are very enthusiastic and bring life to this course. I was unsure about whether or not I would enjoy Python, but with the way you have taught it, I find it enjoyable. I am even considering taking up a minor if the programming goes well.
- I am horrible with computers ( i broke 7 computers in high school hahah) but the class make me like them a bit more.
- Your enthusiasm and depth of knowledge and examples to make it applicable to what we learn. You are a great teacher.
Selected comments from informal survey conducted at the end of COMP 1001: Introduction to Computers for Arts and Socials Sciences (Summer 2011):
- Thank you for having such a great possitive attitude. I never though I would gain any computer skills and I now have a new passion for it.By far this is the best elective I took at Carleton. It was extremely valuable and helpful. Thank you for all the help! I'm looking forward to taking more computer classes or workshops. Not only has this class helped me with computer skills but it has inspired me in many other aspects. Thanks a bunch!
- It was not exactly what I was expecting but it was a challenge for me because Im terrible with any science, formulas or computers and this course helped me confront that. Im happy I took this class.
- The course is rich in resources and the prof. very flexible,understanding, kind and encouraging to all and so do the TAs. The prof.knows how to deliver the course and the many quizzes and assigns. were a great help to have a good and in depth grasp of the course. I'm glad I did this course.
- I like our instructor both she and the last speaker helped me think about computer science as a more attainable area to understand and be a part of. I enjoyed playing around in scratch.
- Having a professor who is enthusiastic, approchable and willing to help students was important in making this course less intimidating . I also like the way the course was broken up into manageable components (4 assignments, 5 quizzes) because it is much easier to learn and retain the material that way.
- Professor is patient and helpful. She keeps up with discussion board and emailing.
- I liked how we learned a bit of everything ie. programming, word etc.
Selected comments from informal survey conducted at the end of COMP 1001: Introduction to Computers for Arts and Socials Sciences (Summer 2010):
- I found all assignments to be useful and interesting :o)
- The project definitely helped me get familiar with Word and Powerpoint and learn the in's an outs of how to use them. Finding a new piece of software was quite exciting, but I may have just lucked out with mine. It will be something that I will use a lot in the future.
- I found scratch rather interesting. You could actually see your product, made me realise that computer scientists arent exactly "nerds"
- I really liked the professor. Ms. Carmichael was enthusiastic, helpful and was obviously interested in the course material. I learned things in the course, but found it overall fairly easy for someone with computer knowledge.
- I liked learning more about how computers work and function. As an arts major it is difficult to get into most computer science courses.
- Overall the course and materials were very well presented and will no doubt be more helpful than continuing with the previous course content.
- I felt the instructor was knowledgeable, patient and helpful. She did a good job for her first time teaching the course. I appreciated receiving my marks quickly after handing them in.
- The prof wanted us to learn what she was talking about. The course wasn't about her - it was about her passion of computer science and she made it look very cool and incredibly relevant to US though we all came fom different backgrounds.
- The exercise understanding binary was something I will never forget for the rest of my life. Because it was a physical/visual exercise i will always remember how to convert binary to decimal.
- It seems wayyy better than the course during the year.
Comments from emails sent from students:
- I just wanted to say you were a really good teacher and made concepts that seemed like rocket science seem easy! You are always willing to help out a student in need.
- I had never thought about learning about computers until very recently. Mostly because I assumed it would be over my head and very challenging. I know now that this is not true and hope that I can continue to gain knowledge when it comes to computer science and programming. I would like to come out of university with a minor in computer science. Your class offers much more than I expected and I look forward to the rest of the term!
- You are a really great professor. I would take all your courses if I could.
- I must admit, python has been extremely challenging and it has required me to put extra effort into the course, effort I didn't anticipate having to put in. However, I would like to thank you for giving me challenging content which forced me do so. It reminded me that I'm in university, not to just coast by with easy A's. I'm here to learn, to soak in information and leave more intelligent then I walked in. Thank you very much for re-opening my eyes to this!
- Going into the class, peers had told me it was a basic computer class where we learned how to work a computer. Being able to actually learn new things and start to understand how basic code works was really great! You’re a great professor :D
- I would like to say how much I am enjoying this course so far. I am in 4th year, and this course is something that I would have never seen myself taking. I love you attitude in class, and I think you are a great instructor!!
Endorsement from the TA Mentor Program Coordinator about my work as TA Mentor:
- Gail has many qualities that make her stand out. She is passionate about computer science and teaching. She is also incredibly creative and self-motivated, which showed in the workshops she designed and delivered for Computer Science teaching assistants. Gail is also a good person to have on a team or committee because she is able to think outside the box and articulate ideas clearly to colleagues. While Gail was TA mentor for the School of Computer Science, she made significant contributions to her department and to the overall program for teaching support. It was a pleasure to work with Gail and I would be happy to work with her again if the opportunity arose.
Comments from TAs about me as the TA Mentor, from a year-end school-wide survey question on receiving adequate support from our department.
- TA Mentor was great, as per the last years. Very well put together workshops.
- Good workshop support, even thought they kept winding up during my classes.
- Yes, she was very proactive.
- Yes, she did a great job.
- Definitely, she helped me with any questions I had regarding TAing, the TA certificate program, and the EDC in general. Also, the workshops were useful.
Strengths listed by the Lead TA Mentor after observing my TA Mentor workshop Techniques for Teaching Computer Science Concepts:
- Your presentation skills!! You are a very engaging speaker, great tone, pace, volume, very clear, great eye contact and very enthusiastic!
- You have a great rapport with your TAs and you are very knowledgeable and passionate about improving teaching in Computer Sciences!
- Great idea for a workshop, I think the format worked really well! I also think it was great that you used the fact that I was there, so that the TAs would have to teach me (a non-computer scientist) their topics.
- Some of the TAs seemed a bit reluctant or maybe a bit scared of the assignment at first, but they really warmed up to the challenge. I think a lot of that had to do with you walking around, talking to them about the teaching approach and making sure they were okay with the teaching subject. Great job!
- The assignment handout that I saw is great, I love the format: General Tips, Background for the teaching method and then the assignment itself. I think this made the instructions for the workshop clearer.