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Becoming A Better Teacher: Adjusting From The Baseline

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.86.1 - 1.86.9



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Paper Authors

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Jerry W. Samples

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Colonel Kip P. Nygren

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

-+-. Session 3630

Becoming a Better Teacher: Adjusting From the Baseline

Jerry W. Samples,Kip P. Nygren United States Military Academy

Abstract: The notion that teachers at the college level are effective based on their disciplinary technical skills is a common one. Teachers develop their entry teaching skills based on desire, needs of the student, and importance placed on teaching by their institutions and their colleagues. Every teacher must have some fundamental teaching skills to be nominally effective, and should improve on these skills to become an accomplished teacher This paper presents a teacher development model that begins with baseline teaching skills, those needed to be effective, and addresses the modifications necessary to move from the baseline to the next level of excellence. Teaching experiments, teacher effectiveness, and variations in the depth of understanding of teaching in general as seen through the eyes of senior and junior faculty will be discussed. Finally, the baseline and the advanced teaching methods will be compared in a common course.


The art of teaching developed slowly throughout academia until the last 30 years when new innovations found their way into the classroom. Collaborative learning, active learning, student centered learning, team teaching, interdisciplinary teaching, guided learning, problem based learning, and interactive learning strategies became the words that described the way forward. Implementation of these methods is a dramatic paradigm shift, especially in the field of engineering education where lecture is the norm. Introduction of design curricula and the need to develop team skills in engineering education opened the door for utilization of advanced teaching methods.

In many other fields of study, these skills found immediate favor, both with the students and the faculty. The humanities and the social sciences embraced these methods and quickly became advocates of the student/faculty interdependent classroom environment, Engineers, scientists and mathematicians are reluctant to enter the unknown of advanced teaching methods, mostly because they were not taught that way. Lecture is best, is the most efficient, and provides the students with what they need: an attitude tied to engineers the world over. The lecture attitude is being replaced in many schools. It is part of the design revolution and the demands by students to be more involved within their own education. It is our belief that use of the advanced methods requires an in-depth understanding of the fundamentals of teaching: a baseline knowledge if you will,

Teacher Development Model

Our teacher development model, fig. 1, begins with a solid understanding of the technical material, understanding and practice with teaching techniques, and experience with teaching. We designate this as the baseline, the fundamental building block that must be present to be a good teacher. The definition is standards based and will vary depending on the school, the faculty, and the students. Yes, the students will let you know if you are on track or not. They will vote with their feet and with the course critiques. To establish a viable baseline, feedback is critical. We enjoy an environment that believes in teaching, where the preparation of the faculty to teach is taken very seriously. In such an environment, teachers progress rapidly from novices, to accomplished teachers. - $iiiii’ }- 1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings ‘..,~yyc,?

Samples, J. W., & Nygren, C. K. P. (1996, June), Becoming A Better Teacher: Adjusting From The Baseline Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--5895

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