Dr. Delroy Brinkerhoff

Image of Dr. Delroy Brinkerhoff
  • Dr. Delroy Brinkerhoff
  • Associate Professor of Computer Science


2010 - Ph.D. in Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences, Utah State University
1996 - M.S. in Computer Science, Utah State University
1984 - B.S. in Computer Science & Computational Mathematics with a Physics minor, Brigham Young University

Current field of Study

Learning is a partnership between students and teachers that is most effective when students’ learning methods are compatible with teachers’ instructional methods, when both methods are based on principled techniques, and when the goals of all participants are aligned. I currently study the problems of creating practical instruction based on established instructional and learning theory, and helping students to develop effective learning skills. I am specifically intrigued by the distinction between information and knowledge, how the former is processed to become the latter, and the role that well-structured knowledge plays in problem solving.


  • Brinkerhoff, D. A. (Submitted, ETR&D) Process-Entity-Activity Networks and the Pursuit of an Unequivocal Primary Representation for Designing CBI.
  • Brinkerhoff, D. A. (2011) Assume a Spherical Cow: An Examination of Four Implicit Learning and Teaching Assumptions. Review of Higher Education and Self-Learning, 4(8), 1-15.
  • Brinkerhoff, D. A. (2010). Assume a Spherical Cow: An Examination of Four Implicit Learning and Teaching Assumptions. Presented December, 2010, Las Vegas NV. Proceedings of Intellectbase International Consortium. Nashville, TN: Intellectbase International Consortium. Volume 13, pp. 400-409.
  • Brinkerhoff, D. A. (2007). Instructional Simulations: Extending Experiential Learning to Abstract Worlds, Weber State University Faculty Forum.
  • Brinkerhoff, D. A. (2002). Revitalizing ISD: A Cross-Discipline View of Model Building, AECT Annual Conference, Dallas, TX.
  • Cannon, S. R. & Brinkerhoff, D. A. (1996). A Stable Distributed Tuple Space. HICSS (1) 22-30
  • Brinkerhoff, D. A. & Cannon, S. R. (1995). A Stand-alone Remote Thread Library for Transputer Systems. PDPTA 765-774, Athens, GA
  • Brinkerhoff, D. A. & Cima, S. J. (1995) Workshop on Object-Oriented Development and Programming, Software Development '95 West, San Francisco, CA.

Biggest Accomplishment in CS

For my dissertation, I proposed the viability of an unequivocal primary representation for specifying computer-based instruction (CBI). I used Turing Machines, mathematical models of computers, to establish that a computable representation was also unequivocal. I then created compilers for two graphical design languages, PEAnets and UML state diagrams, to translate the diagrams into executable CBI engines. The compilers proved that the representations were computable and therefor unequivocal.

For my thesis, I created a C-to-C compiler and library that migrated threads from one CPU to another on a non-shared memory architecture. The compiler and library were used as a part of the implementation of a fault-tolerant version of the Linda programming language that was able to pause running threads, encapsulate their state, and post the encapsulated thread on a common bulletin board where it was migrated to an available CPU and restarted.

As part of a two-man team, I ported cfront 2.1 (the first commercially available C++ compiler) to multiple architectures and operating systems (RISC and CISC, Unix SVR3 and SVR4). Individually, I also created a data structure library that would have been one of the first commercially available C++ libraries. We shipped the master tapes on a Wednesday night and I spent the next week working nights to prepare the camera-ready copy of the documentation. The following Wednesday, just before the documentation shipped, the company canceled the project.

Something Interesting

I was a rather mediocre undergraduate student despite the great effort and substantial amount of time that I devoted to studying. I was an ineffective learner because I had no idea what knowledge was nor how to acquire it. My teachers implored me to “understand” but were unable to articulate what it meant “to understand” and so I relied almost entirely on memorization. That lack of understanding imperceptibly changed while working as a professional software engineer.

After completing my first graduate class, I was stunned to learn that I had aced the final exam and scored the second highest overall in the class. Needless to say, that was a new experience for me. While working in industry I had become a more effective learner but no epiphany marked that transition and so I remained largely unaware of how I had changed. When I began teaching fulltime, I knew that my students needed to “understand” but I was no more able to articulate what that meant than were my teachers before me.

The search for the concepts necessary to explain my own growth and to help my students become more effective learners played a large role in choosing my doctoral studies. Those studies have given me a better understanding of how my engineering experiences developed my learning skills and how to create similar learning experiences in the classroom. Being dyslexic and perhaps having other learning disabilities, learning remains an arduous task for me, but if I can recreate for students the experiences from which I learn, I can help them build the understanding upon which success is built.