Kyle Rector demonstrates Eyes-Free Yoga class using Microsoft Kinect
Kyle Rector, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, demonstrates Eyes-Free Yoga class using Microsoft Kinect

The process of balancing more than one task requires careful planning, experience, and commitment. Much like balancing two objects, maintaining balance in the professional world also can be a challenge. 

For Assistant Professor of Computer Science Kyle Rector, however, balancing teaching and research has become more a process of combining two major aspects of her professional career into one key goal: improving accessibility through technology.

Rector first became interested in Computer Science while working on an undergraduate research project at Oregon State University exploring the gender differences when using spreadsheet systems like Microsoft Excel.

She realized how Computer Science could have a positive impact on people and decided to add a Computer Science major in her junior year. As an undergraduate student, Rector conducted human-computer interaction research for 4.5 years.  

Once Rector began her graduate degree at the University of Washington, she started to explore accessibility, and ways she could use her Computer Science background to break down barriers for people with disabilities.

Eventually, Rector started to explore ways to help improve accessibility in fitness and digital arts using technology.

“I am especially interested in developing technologies that enhance the quality of life for people who are blind or have low vision in research domains involving exercise and art,” she says.

Rector has developed an Eyes-Free Yoga class using the Microsoft Kinect that acts as a yoga instructor and gives personalized audio feedback to people who are blind or visually impaired, based on their posture and position during different yoga poses.

While research is a major priority in her life, Rector also dedicates much of her time to teaching. Having recently completed her first year as an assistant professor, she understands that an important expectation of her new faculty role is to balance teaching and research. With support from the Early Career Faculty Academy, Rector has developed several strategies that have helped her to effectively and efficiently balance both areas of her career.

First, Rector takes the time to plan ahead and keeps track of the time she devotes to various tasks.

“I’ve found I’m more efficient in the classroom when I schedule time to prepare for my lessons,” she says, “I also make sure to save most of my class time for discussion.” 

During the Spring 2017 semester, Rector taught Research and Design of Accessible Computing Technologies. Teaching a course so closely related to her research has proven beneficial for not only her students, but also for herself.

“Being able to teach this content to my students has helped me learn even more about the subject,” Rector says, which has enhanced her research.

To help her improve her teaching, Rector also has utilized different resources provided by the Office of Teaching, Learning & Technology Center for Teaching, including Academy workshops and student feedback provided by a Class Assessment by Student Interview (CLASSI).

“The CLASSI provided me with anonymous feedback from my students on things that were going well in my class, and things that I could change,” Rector says, “I also learned that minute papers’ are a useful way to get quick feedback from students and assess their learning.”

Rector says she will continue to balance her teaching and research by taking advantage of the summer months while classes aren’t in session, to plan, stay organized, and catch up on research.

To learn more about Rector, her research, or her teaching experiences visit: