the right balance between research and teaching just might be
possibleif we teach the teachers how to teach before they
become professors. If new assistant professors have had that experience,
they will do a better job and have more time to devote to research.
The ideal training time is during the doctoral program, but it's
never too late to become a better teacher.
students, the training should begin when they are teaching assistants
(TAs). Schools should strive to make this an effective learning
experience for the TA by requiring an ongoing seminar and encouraging
discussions of teaching with the professor in charge.
A more thorough
approach is a class on teaching that covers a variety of methods,
including testing and grading procedures and learning theories.
Such a course can provide the background for conducting educational
research in engineering education (see a description of my course
on educational methods in engineering at http://unitops.ecn.purdue.edu/~che685g1/
a teaching practicum can be made available for interested Ph.D.
candidates who want to be student teachers, receiving supervision
and frequent feedback on their teaching from an experienced professor.
have not had the opportunity for any kind of instruction in pedagogy.
They probably learned to teach through on-the-job training, which
provides practical know-how but does not build the theoretical
background required to become a professional teacher. On-the-job
training is the most effective when the teacher reflects on the
experience after each class, asks for feedback from students,
and discusses teaching with colleagues. Other methods include:
teaching workshops. Though they do not provide as strong a background
in pedagogy as a formal course, workshops are good for motivation
and learning specific techniques. Examples are the National
Effective Teaching Institute connected to ASEE's annual
conferences, NSF summer workshops, workshops at professional
society meetings, and internally sponsored university workshops.
Workshops can help professors learn techniques, such as cooperative
learning and computer applications in teaching, that they missed
out on as undergraduates. These kinds of sessions can help professors
adapt to new teaching methods.
to teaching symposia and listening to papers that are presented.
Pay close attention to the content to see what you can use.
and reflecting. Start with engineering education literature,
including ASEE Prism, the Journal of Engineering Education,
proceedings of the ASEE annual meetings and Frontiers in Education
conferences (all available online), and other engineering education
journals. Also, you might read the all-time citation classic
in engineering education, Felder and Silverman's article,
Learning and Teaching Styles in Engineering Education
(Engr. Educ., volume 78, pages 674-681, published in 1988).
Other good reading materials include The Chronicle of Higher
Education, Change, and College Teaching. Read classic books
on teaching and student development such as Forms of Intellectual
and Ethical Development in the College Years by W.G. Perry,
Jr. and Experiential Learning by D.A. Kolb.
feedback from students. Ask for an evaluation from your students
immediately after the first test. Pass out 3x5 cards and ask,
What can we (professor and TA) do to help you learn in
this course? Then act on the feedback. Meet weekly with
a volunteer group of students, and listen without being defensive.
Reflect on what was said. Make necessary changes to improve
the TA what material the students are struggling with. TAs often
know where the problems are long before the professor does.
a coffee or brown-bag lunch group to informally discuss teaching.
Offer to be a teaching mentor, or to visit another professor's
classes and make (gentle) critiques. If you are brave, request
a teaching mentor or ask another professor to attend your classes
(or volunteer to be videotaped).
on departmental structures that inhibit good teaching. Make
good teaching an important part of the hiring process by having
candidates present introductory material to students. If you
are on the promotion and tenure committee, reward good teaching
and don't tolerate bad teaching.
you too can be a good teacher and have time left over for research.
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.
by Lung-I Lo