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Mark Campbell

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Mark CampbellWhen he first started teaching at Cornell, Mark Campbell knew he looked very young, so he decided to have some fun on the first day. "I sat in the front row of the class and started a conversation with the students about the 'new guy,'" he says. "I tried to goad the students on—saying that I heard the new professor looked like a 10 year old. I then got up and started lecturing."  

But, Campbell says, his most memorable moments "are the emails I get from students a few years out, thanking me for a particular course or interaction."  

Campbell enjoys watching his students grow, much like they were his own children. "The process goes from the first meeting, to the stress of exams, to graduation, to feedback a few years out," he says. "The evolution is wonderful to behold."  

His ability to explain concepts in multiple ways is one aspect of his teaching that Campbell says students find appealing. "I think I am fairly well organized, with a practical side that complements any theory that I present," he says. "I am probably less formal than some of my colleagues, both in the material I present and how I run things." 

Campbell finds using a tablet PC during lectures to be very useful. "I started this about 6 years ago, and it allows students to learn the material in different ways," he says. "I also post lecture notes. But, most importantly to me: I get to face the class during lecture, which makes the lecturing process feel much more intimate." 

For Campbell's graduate course, the final is a 30-minute oral. "I call it 'an informal discussion on multivariable control,' and we sit at the table in my office and discuss various topics," he says. "I find that I really understand what the students know this way. And, the students don't kill me on student evaluations, which is amazing."  

Campbell says he has become much more organized since his first day of teaching, and that this really helps the students. "I have also really tried to incorporate different teaching elements into my teaching style over time," he says. "For example, in addition to the tablet PC, I also have organized my lectures in 10-minute chunks, which have been shown to nicely keep the students attention. I have also tried to incorporate real problems so that students will have a feel for how the theory is applied. I also blend in projects and labs as I can."