Dr. Tong Yi is the latest addition to the teaching community at Hunter College’s Computer Science department, and this semester, she is instructing CSCI 13500, otherwise known as Software Design and Analysis I. In her most recent position at SUNY Old Westbury, she specifically instructed undergraduate computer science students on basic algorithms, data structures, and networking.
Her journey began during her college application process. In China, students are required to declare their majors before entering college, and as a high school student, she was interested in mathematics but she didn’t want to focus on the theoreticals. She later chose to pursue one of the newer fields at the time, Computer Science. During her university years, Dr. Tong gained interests in networking, algorithm patterns, and teaching, which inspired her to "mainly concentrate on making these concepts easy for undergraduates to understand so they can explore the field themselves and to get thinking like a computer scientist."
She later studied at Louisiana State University and graduated with a PhD in Computer Science in 2005 and a Masters in Mathematics in 2006. Upon graduating, she taught at Iowa Wesleyan University, University of Georgia, SUNY Old Westbury, and now Hunter!
Now that Dr. Tong is at Hunter, she seeks to expand her professional knowledge and accustom herself to larger instruction sections that many of us are familiar with at CUNY. As a consequence of being located in the middle of New York City, Hunter allows for greater exposure and accessibility to industries and a busier tech scene than previous universities Dr. Tong has worked at.
In her past teaching experiences, lectures had fewer students and industry-related events were infrequent. Instructing at Hunter--and during a pandemic--requires some adjustment.
Due to social-distancing, Dr. Tong does not intend on conducting or participating in research yet. Moreover, she acknowledges that it is hard for people to learn online and that it has been challenging on her part too. In particular, she noted that the greatest struggle of this semester is the lack of in-person or face-to-face interactions; being unable to read her students’ facial expressions or associate names with faces. When there is a lack of feedback from students, she often relies on reading her students’ expressions to determine what they like or dislike, whether more examples are needed, or if they are confused. Working on an online platform, she also struggles to balance her attention between the chat and slides and lack of feedback.
Regardless, she is excited to apply what she has learned under Hunter’s online teaching training and remains passionate about developing and guiding her students through to the online semester. She expressed that she hopes for their success and for them to enjoy their undergraduate years. Most importantly, she wants her students to know that they are not alone.
“I want them to know that we care and want them to learn. If they have a problem, they can always talk to us. If they don’t know the right resources, we can refer them to the right one ... I want them to be able to learn and know that undergraduate years are very important to their academic lives whether they continue or go into the industry. I hope that they can enjoy their years. If I can help, I would be very glad and honored.”