June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
New Engineering Educators
14.276.1 - 14.276.10
Beyond Anecdotes: How to Assess What Goes on in Your Classes
Abstract New professors have many demands on their schedules and they often don’t think about documenting and studying classroom practice. Doing so offers them insights and evidence as to what works in teaching. In order to be able to undertake evidence-based research of their teaching they need some practical advice on how to effectively and efficiently conduct such endeavors. While historically social science research has been hindered by skepticism of its validity and rigor, in truth educational research is not without protocols and standards. However, most beginning engineering faculty (and for that matter, seasoned engineering faculty) are not schooled in educational research and so the prospective of empirically studying what goes on in their classroom can be daunting. In this paper, we will share practical tips and suggestions on how to collect and analyze instructional data. Given the breadth of responsibilities that new faculty must take on, new professors need practical guidance on how they can contribute to engineering educational research. In this paper we share our hard-learned lessons on research approaches, data gathering, and analysis. We offer ideas that will help new professors streamline the process and approach these processes in an efficient and effective manner.
New professors face many expectations including the ability to be an effective teacher. Accordingly, “university faculty have important responsibilities both for transmitting existing knowledge and for creating new knowledge: for teaching and learning.” 1 Generally there is a plethora of resources on how to teach, but guidance for creating new knowledge on teaching and learning through educational research approaches are not as readily apparent for beginning engineering faculty. The American Society of Engineering Educator’s division, Educational Research and Methods, addresses various aspects of the learning process including, research on learning, research on methods of instruction, dissemination of knowledge on teaching and learning, and development of procedures and materials for instruction2, but many new professors often need specific guidance as they begin the process of empirically studying their instructional strategies and outcomes.
The need for “evidence based” practice in engineering education stems from various factors including, for example, a better understanding of how people learn, a new generation of “digital native” learners, and calls for educational reform particularly in the areas of science, mathematics, and engineering. New engineering educators are expected to, at the very least, to be versed in current pedagogy and have a working knowledge of relevant instructional issues. Given that engineers are theory-based thinkers, many want to know the “whys” behind instructional approaches and to hear about the supporting empirical findings. Taking only value judgments or trusting in approaches without any scientific basis goes against an engineer’s core thinking. Yet a
Proceedings of the 2009 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2009 American Society for Engineering Education
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