Samiha Marwan: Programming Gets Easier Through Feedback

Woman wearing hijab, glasses, and black graduation cap and gown..Dr. Samiha Marwan is a Postdoctoral Researcher and Computing Innovations (CI) Fellow at the University of Virginia. She holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science (CS) from North Carolina State University, a Master’s degree in CS from the British University in Egypt (BUE), and a B.S. degree in CS from Ain Shams University in Egypt. Her research focuses on designing and evaluating automated supports such as hints and formative feedback in learning environments. To connect with Samiha on Twitter, please follow her at @SamihaMarwan.

How did you choose your field of study? Was there a pivotal event that sparked your interest?
I was born and raised in Egypt, and our education system is somewhat different from the US. To join any university program, you need to get a minimum score in high school. I graduated from high school with a high score that allowed me to join whatever program I wanted. I was thinking of Computer Engineering or Computer Science (CS), but both my parents voted for CS because they see the future in software technology. And so, this is how I ended up in the program for Computer Science at Ain Shams University in Egypt. This is where my story and passion with CS begins, and if I went back to high school again, I would choose the same field.

Describe your research in five words. Programming gets easier through feedback.

Please share a bit more about your research in one to three sentences.
My research focuses on designing and evaluating different design choices of automated support, such as hints and formative feedback. Specifically, I apply best practices inspired by learning theories and effective instructional techniques to develop automated support in learning environments that can improve students’ cognitive outcomes (e.g., performance and learning), and affective outcomes (e.g., motivation and persistence).

What do you hope to learn about as you participate in the Emerging Scholar CIRCLS?
For me, connections and communication are the keys to success, and participating in the Emerging Scholar CIRCLS opens the gate to meeting scholars and professionals who have similar research interests. These new connections can help me to collaborate in future research, be up to date, and always have the chance to get feedback on my current projects and future research ideas and projects. It is also a place where I get inspired by lots of ideas.

What are your passions outside of work and research? And why are they important to you?
I like to spend time with my little daughter and husband. Traveling and visiting new places is our top priority when having a holiday or some time off. Also, I love cooking and trying out new recipes from different cuisines. If a recipe turns out to be awesome, I like to organize gatherings with my friends and cook my recipes for them.

If you could offer one piece of advice to your past, pre-graduate school self, what would it be?
Have confidence that working hard will pay off no matter what, and a project failure just means that you have learnt something new.