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Associate Professor Mark CohenDr. Mark Cohen

Associate Professor, Computer Science 

 

About Me

My name is Mark Cohen and I am a faculty member in the Computer Science Department at MCLA. I am passionate about the discipline of Computer Science and I truly enjoy teaching Computer Science to undergraduates.

Before joining MCLA I taught Computer Science and Information Systems at Lock Haven University in North Central Pennsylvania. I also have over 10 years of experience working in industry as a software engineer.

My research interests include making it easier to build and apply intelligent agents. My contributions towards this goal include better agent development environments, higher-level behavior representation languages, and improved tools for teaching agent development.  

When I am not teaching or programming I like to spend time outdoors. My hobbies include fly fishing, birding, cross country skiing, and photography.

Teaching Philosophy

My teaching philosophy is to provide an interactive and experiential learning environment that engages students in the learning process.

While lecture is a necessary and important method of instruction, I do not feel it is prudent for lecture to dominate classroom instruction. Instead, I prefer to employ alternating periods of lecture and experiential learning such as pair-programming, team problem solving, and in-class research projects. The expanding access to technology in the classroom environment, and the students’ proficiency and interest in these technologies, has introduced new opportunities for engaging and instructing students. In addition to in-class exercises utilizing laptops, I have also explored the use of online open-book quizzes (to encourage students to open their textbooks) and the creation of instructional videos that enable students to review complex course content outside of class. I am continuously implementing and assessing these and other new teaching strategies that I feel may improve students’ comprehension of course material and facilitate learning.

I believe that for experiential learning to be successful, it is important to create an environment that encourages students to explore the course material without fear of failure. For me, a key to achieving this goal is providing students with frequent opportunities to practice, enabling them to gain understanding and confidence in the application of key course concepts. Regular assignments and online quizzes provide great opportunities for this, especially when designed as learning experiences, rather than decisive means for assessment. I also strongly encourage students to visit me for help with assignments, allowing me to assist with challenging concepts, before frustration can take hold.

Another way to circumvent frustration is to employ visual examples whenever possible. Computing education relies heavily on abstraction, which presents a challenge to many undergraduates. I feel it is important to embrace visual examples to help concrete thinkers become comfortable with abstract concepts.

While my philosophy encourages student experimentation, I feel it is important that there is a clearly defined structure to each course. In addition to a well-organized syllabus with clear course objectives, I have also found it useful to have consistent assignment due dates and times, and regular intervals between quizzes and exams to assist students in keeping track of course content and deadlines.

I believe it is also essential to clearly express my sincere interest in each student’s success. When students know that their professor is genuinely concerned about their achievement, they will work harder, learn more, and enjoy the course. Simple actions such as chatting with students about their studies, offering to help those that have fallen behind, and showing compassion during difficult periods in their life can illustrate how much I want my students to succeed.

While I write this philosophy with confidence, it is naive to think that it is complete. With each new experience come many new ideas and an updated philosophy. For me, this is exactly what makes teaching so enjoyable.

Publications

Morey, L. C., Cohen, M. A (2015). Bias in the log5 estimation of outcome of batter/pitcher matchups, and an alternative. Journal of Sports Analytics, 1(2015), 65-76.

Cohen, M. A. (2013). Uncoupling Alice: Using Alice to Teach Advanced Object-Oriented Design. ACM Inroads, 4(3), 82-88.

Cohen, M. A., Ritter, F. E., & Haynes, S. R. (2012). Dimensions of concern: A method to use cognitive dimensions to evaluate interfaces. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, 19(2), 1-18. 

Cohen, M. A., Ritter, F. E., & Haynes, S. R. (2010). Applying software engineering to agent development. AI Magazine , 31 (2), 25-44.

Haynes, S. R., Cohen, M. A., & Ritter, F. E. (2009).  Design patterns for explaining intelligent systems.  International Journal of Human-Computer Studies. 67(1). 99-110.

Cohen, M. A. (2005). The Development of a Game Playing Framework Using Interface-based Programming. Best of Crossroads: The ACM Student Magazine, Fall 2005.

Peer Reviewed Conference Publications

Ritter, F. E., Yeh, K. C., Cohen, M. A., Weyhrauch, P., Kim, J. W., & Hobbs, J. N. (2013). Declarative to procedural tutors: A family of cognitive architecture-based tutors. In Proceedings of the 22nd Conference on Behavior Representation in Modeling and Simulation. BRIMS2013-127. BRIMS Society: Centerville, OH.

Georgeon, O. L., Cohen, M. A., & Cordier, A. V. (2011). A Model and Simulation of Early-stage Vision as a Developmental Sensorimotor Process.  In Proceedings of theArtificial Intelligence Applications and Innovations Conference, Corfu, Greece.

Paik, J., Kim, J. W., Ritter, F. E., Morgan, J. H., Haynes, S. R., & Cohen, M. A. (2010). Building Large Learning Models with Herbal. In Proceedings of International Conference on Cognitive Modeling, Philadelphia, PA.

Cohen, M. A., Ritter F. E., & Haynes S. R. (2009), Evaluating design: A formative evaluation of agent development environments used for teaching rule-based programming.  In Proceedings of the Information Systems Education Conference, 1542-7382, Washington DC

Cohen, M. A., & Cass, R. E. (2009). ODONTA Data: A Web-Based application for tracking dragonfly and damselfly populations. The 24th Annual Conference of the Pennsylvania Association of Computer and Information Science Educators, (pp. 16-21). Slippery Rock, PA. 

Cohen, M. A. (2008).  A theory-based environment for creating reusable cognitive models. (Doctoral dissertation, The Pennsylvania State University, 2008).  Retrieved January 6, 2010 from The CAT database.

Haynes, S.R., Kannampallil, T.G., Cohen, M.A., Soares, A. and Ritter, F.E. (2008). Rampart: A Service and Agent-Based Architecture for Anti-Terrorism Planning and Resource Allocation. In Proceedings of the First European Conference on Intelligence and Security Informatics, 260-270. Esbjerg, Denmark.

Cohen, A. M., Ritter, F. E., & Haynes, S. R. (2007). Using Reflective Learning to Master Opponent Strategy in a Competitive Environment. In Proceedings of International Conference on Cognitive Modeling, 219-228 Ann Arbor, MI.

Ritter, F. E., Kase, S. E., Bhandarkar, D., Lewis, B., & Cohen, A. M. (2007). dTank updated:  Exploring moderator-influenced behavior in a light-weight synthetic environment. In proceedings of the 16th Conference on Behavior Representation in Modeling and Simulation, 51-60. Norfolk, VA.

Ritter, F. E., Haynes, S. R., Cohen, M. A., Howes, A., John, B. E., Best, B., Lebiere, C., Jones, R. M., Lewis, R. L., St Amant, R., McBride, S. P., Urbas, L., Leuchter, S., & Vera, A. (2006). High-level behavior representation languages revisited. In proceedings of theSeventh International Conference on Cognitive Modeling, 404-407. Trieste, Italy: Edizioni Goliardiche.

Haynes, S. R., Skattebo, A. L., Singel, J. A., Cohen, M. A., & Himelright, J. L. (2006). Collaborative Architecture Design and Evaluation. In proceedings of the ACM DIS 2006: The Conference on Designing Interactive Systems, 219-228. State College, PA.

Morgan, G. P., Ritter, F. E., Cohen, M. A., Stevenson, W. E., & Schenck, I. N. (2005). dTank: An environment for architectural comparisons of competitive agents. In proceedings of the 14th Conference on Behavior Representation in Modeling and Simulation, 133-140. Universal City, CA.

Morgan, G. P., Cohen, A. M., Haynes, S. R., & Ritter, F. E. (2005). Increasing efficiency of the development of user models. IEEE System Information and Engineering Design Symposium.

Cohen, M. A., Ritter, F. E., & Haynes, S. R. (2005). Herbal: A high-level language and development environment for developing cognitive models in Soar. In proceedings of the14th Behavior Representation in Modeling and Simulation, 133-140. University City, CA.

Cohen, M. A. (2005). Teaching agent programming using custom environments and Jess.The Newsletter of the Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and Simulation Behavior, 120, 4.

Tor, K., Ritter, F. E., Haynes, S. R., & Cohen, M. A. (2004). CaDaDis: A tool for displaying the behavior of cognitive models and agents. In proceedings of the 13th Conference on Behavior Representation in Modeling and Simulation, 192-200. Orlando, FL U. of Central Florida.

Tor, K., Haynes, S. R., Ritter, F. E., & Cohen, M. A. (2004). Categorical data displays generated from three cognitive architectures illustrate their behavior. In proceedings of theInternational Conference on Cognitive Modeling, 302-307. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Selected Seminars, Presentations, and Workshops

Cohen, M. A. (2010).  XBox Game Programming in C#. Presented at the Lock Haven University Association of Computing Machinery Symposium, Lock Haven University.

Cohen, M. A., Ritter, F.E., Hayes, S.R. (2008). Using Reflective Learning to Master Opponent Strategy in a Competitive Environment. Presented to the students of IST 501:Integrative Theories and Methods of the Information Sciences and Technology, College of Information Sciences and Technology, the Pennsylvania State University.

Cohen, M. A., Ritter F. E., Haynes, S. R. (2007). Using a High-Level Behavior Representation Language and Graphical Development Environment to Teach Cognitive Modeling and Agent Programming. Presented at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the Pennsylvania Association of Computer Information Science Educators, Lock Haven University.

Ritter, F. E., Haynes, S. R., & Cohen, M. A. (2006). Real World Behavioral Modeling with the Herbal High-Level Language. Presented at the Office of Naval Resources Affordable Human Behavior Modeling Workshop, Arlington, VA

Ritter, F. E., Stevenson, W. E., Schenck, I. N., & Cohen, M. A. (2005). A tutorial on Herbal: A high-level language and development environment based on Protege for developing cognitive models in Soar. In proceedings of the 14th Conference on Behavior Representation in Modeling and Simulation, Universal City, CA.

Cohen, M. A. (2004). Developing Intelligent Agents using Jess and dTank. Presented to the Applied Cognitive Science Laboratory, College of Information Sciences and Technology, the Pennsylvania State University.

Cohen, M. A. (2004). An Introduction to the Herbal High-Level Language. Presented to the students of IST 402: The Development and Application of Models of Human Performance, College of Information Sciences and Technology, the Pennsylvania State University.

Cohen, M. A. (2004). Python Rules: An Introduction to the Python Programming Language. Presented at the Lock Haven University Association of Computing Machinery Symposium, Lock Haven University.

Cohen, M. A., Ritter, F. E., & Haynes, S. R. (2004). An Introduction to Herbal. In proceedings of the XXIV Soar Workshop, 75-77. University of Michigan: The Soar Group.

Cohen, M. A. (2003). An Introduction to the Herbal Viewer. Presented to the students of IST 402: The Development and Application of Models of Human Performance, College of Information Sciences and Technology, the Pennsylvania State University.

Cohen, M. A. (2003). Developing Intelligent Systems: Soar, Herbal, and dTank. Presented at the Lock Haven University Association of Computing Machinery Symposium, Lock Haven University.

Reviews and Miscellaneous Publications

Cass, L. A. & Cohen, M. A. (2008). Worms in the kitchen, 2(3). (B. Myers, Editor) Retrieved from The Hemlock: http://www.lhup.edu/rmyers3/Hemlock/Hemlock2.3.htm  

Bach, P. M., & Cohen, A. M. (2005). Simplifying Complexity [Review of the book Interaction Design for Complex Problem Solving, Developing Useful and Usable Software]. IEEE Software, 22.

Contact Information

Mark.Cohen@mcla.edu

Office: Bowman Hall 101B

413.662.5582

https://www.flickr.com/photos/marklisaflickr/

 

Education

Ph.D., Information Sciences and Technology, 2008, The College of Information Sciences and Technology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 

M.S., Computer Science, 1996, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA

B.S., Electrical Engineering, 1991, Lafayette College, Easton, PA

 

Awards/Grants

My Paper “The development of a game playing framework using interface-based programming” (Cohen, 2005) was selected as one of the six best papers ever published by ACM Crossroads Magazine (Fall 2005).

State System of Higher Education Keystone University Program Investment Planning Grant. Cohen (PI). $5.2k. (Fall 2004 to Spring 2005)

Student’s Choice Award for excellence in teaching (AY 2002/2003)

GlaxoSmithKline Impact Awards for excellence in system design and implementation (2001 & 2002)

 

Courses Taught

Introduction to Computer Science

Web Development, Database Development

Object-Oriented Design

N-Tier Software Development

Server-Side Software Development

Programming in C++

Networked Systems Administration

Data Structures and Algorithms

Operating Systems