aids make teaching effective without denting your budget.
type printing press, blackboards, television, computers, and other inventions
have, over the years, profoundly affected the way professors teach.
When new, these developments were often touted as being the solution
to whatever ailed education, but they did not improve teaching or increase
learning if appropriate learning principles were not followed. Currently,
computers and the Internet are the technologies of choice, and there
may be significant pressure for professors to incorporate them into
their teaching. However, such incorporation can be both expensive and
time consuming. Instead of using mega-dollar computer-aided technologies,
how about trying simpler, inexpensive techniques that are effective
and take little time to use?
are some simple suggestions:
Blackboards (greenboards & whiteboards) are excellent for
recording permanent information such as assignments, notices,
and an outline of the current class. They're also good back-ups
when the overhead projector lamp burns out or your PowerPoint has a
with the blackboard, overhead projectors allow you cover more material
with better student understanding if you also hand out partial lecture
notes with occasional blank spaces that are filled in as the lecture
progresses. They are also an excellent back-up for PowerPoint slides.
Using one projector for the current transparency and another for the
previous transparency allows you to contrast and compare, and it allows
students to get caught up if they get behind.
which are common in industry, can be used by student groups to develop
their ideas and then for presentations to the entire class. Since this
and the next suggestion are commonly used for industrial training, they
help prepare students for industry.
Notes are often used in meetings to prioritize options. Participants
vote on their choices by sticking the Post-it Notes on the flip chart
or blackboard that lists the options. Student groups (e.g., the student
chapter of your professional society) can use this to decide on project
priorities. Or in an elective class, they can pick the topics they want
to cover in the course.
cards are very useful for feedback such as the one-minute quiz.
There are a variety of good one-minute questions. What can the professor
and/or TA do to help you learn? What is one thing about today's
lecture that is unclear? What is the muddiest concept in the material
to be covered on the next test? Students can generate responses individually
or in small groups. The use of 3x5 cards encourages student responses
or cut-open pieces of equipment are often gathering dust in the
basement or attic of your building. These could include complete chemical
plants, cut open valves or pumps, piping samples, mechanical linkages,
and so forth. Get the students involved with them by assigning a one-page
paper explaining how a valve or pump works. Or have them sketch the
flowchart for a plant based on the complete model. Students who like
to work with concrete objects will especially enjoy and profit from
is great for answering student questions, particularly in distance education
or when there are a number of part-time students. Arrange to have telephone
office hours when you or the TA will be available.
is a low technology use of computers, but it is a great communication
tool. For example, if there is an error on a homework assignment, you
can e-mail all of the students so that they will solve the corrected
problem. And since e-mail often appeals to different students, it can
supplement office hours.
A picture is still worth a 1000 words (or more with inflation). If you
can't take the students to the plant or construction site, snap
some pictures. Then show slides or transparencies in class. If you prefer
high-tech, do it with a digital camera and make PowerPoint slides.
Tape recorders. To improve group skills, a tape recorder can help students
analyze their joint work. Tape the discussion and have students listen
to the tape and analyze the group process.
and video. There are excellent videos and CDs available to show
how equipment works. Homemade videos are also excellent for showing
how to use equipment in the lab. And there is no better feedback to
students on their oral presentation skills than video taping their presentations
and having them privately review the tapes.
one of these simple technologies has a targeted niche where it can help
to satisfy learning principles and help students learn.
Wankat is head of interdisciplinary engineering and the Clifton L. Lovell
Distinguished Professor of chemical engineering at Purdue University.
Frank Oreovicz is an education communications specialist at Purdue's
chemical engineering school. They can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.