Dr. Rajiv Gandhi (Associate Professor, Computer Science) believes that his strength in teaching is nothing special: he chooses materials that are challenging for his students and then works hard to give them the support necessary to come up with solutions on their own. He notes that this culture of hard work is absorbed by his students who sometimes choose to leave the classroom rather than receive the answer to a problem they haven’t yet solved. Gandhi’s success in his teaching has been notable: many of his students have gone on to top graduate programs, a rarity for Rutgers-Camden students.
In classroom Gandhi prefers to teach theoretical computer science as that forms the foundations of the field—the science behind computer programming. “People assume that you are sitting in front of a computer doing programming, but this is computer science, not computer programming.” He keeps his classes very active. “Students cannot sleep in my class,” he says. “There’s too much going on, too much being asked of them.” He also makes sure that they have some answer to questions asked in class. “‘I don’t know’ isn’t an acceptable answer. It’s okay to be wrong, but it’s not okay not to have something to say.”
One of the ways that Gandhi pushes his students to success is through engaging them in original research in the problems of the field. He finds that, though answers may prove elusive, the act of struggling for solutions increases not just students’ research acumen but their sense of the contributions they can make to the discipline. And for students who wish to continue on to graduate school, the research performed as undergraduates helps them stand out as candidates for top tier programs and enables them to thrive once they are admitted.