June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
First-year Programs Division Technical Session 8: Project-based Learning and Cornerstone Courses
26.704.1 - 26.704.22
Examining Relationships and Patterns in Pedagogical Beliefs, Attitudes and Classroom Practices for Faculty of Undergraduate Engineering, Math and Science Foundational CoursesResearch shows that faculty may hold beliefs about teaching that, in the ideal, are learner-centered, but in reality their practice may be teacher-centered due to constraints such as classsize, time, technology and their beliefs about students’ abilities (citation). This study examinesthe relationship between the pedagogical beliefs and practices of faculty teaching requiredfreshman courses for engineering students.The study utilized four data collection methods: faculty interviews, faculty surveys, observationprotocol scores and qualitative classroom observations. Eight different courses across fourdepartments (2 Engineering, 2 Mathematics, 2 Physics, and 2 Chemistry) were chosen for thestudy. Individual sections observed were randomly selected. A total of eight semi-structured one-hour interviews were conducted. The interviews consisted of twenty-four questions focusing ontopics of teaching practices, teaching environment, course and departmental policies, self anddepartmental evaluations, and departmental and interdepartmental collaboration. In addition tothe interview, each instructor completed a twenty-two item revised edition of the Approaches toTeaching Inventory survey to measure the faculty perceptions about their own teaching. For eachcourse, three classroom observations were conducted for a total of 24 classroom observations.The Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP) was used after each observation toidentify specific teaching practices and examine their relationship with the interview and surveyresponses. In addition, ethnographic field notes were gathered during each course observationincluding details about class environment, linguistic and communal practices, and studentactions/reactions to instructor moves.The faculty interviews revealed several common beliefs across faculty and across collegedepartments including the identification of specific impediments to student success. Forexample, many faculty members shared the belief that their students come into class with gaps infoundational knowledge and their course is not adaptable for catching them up. Overall, teachingdelivery and environment was inconsistent from department to department. In our small butrepresentative sample, the Engineering department and the Mathematics department had the mostintradepartmental consistency in their teaching delivery and environment. Classroomenvironments included small classrooms with tables, workshops, small lecture halls and largelecture halls. Instruction delivery ranged from mostly lecture with pauses for questions in one ofthe physics classes, to shared problem solving in one of the mathematics classes, to student ledactivities in engineering. Student interactions with each other during class ranged from verylittle, particularly in the large lecture halls, to almost constant collaboration in classes withlaboratory formats. In general, lectures were “traditional” with instructor having the majority ofthe speaking time. How engaging each instructor made the “traditional” lecture varied greatlydepending on the use of visuals and/or demonstrations, the pace of instruction and amount ofinformation covered, use of humor, body language, kinds of questions asked to the class,willingness of students to ask questions, and frequency of questions asked to students. Therelationships between each individual’s beliefs and practices were seen to be impacted in part bythe context within which the faculty member worked. The interviews, surveys and observationsreveal that the class and college context greatly impacts teaching behavior, even when facultypresent with more learner-centered attitudes. Thus, department culture and norms (includingphysical plant, available technology, common finals, etc.) constrain what even well-intentionedand informed faculty can do within boundaries set by these norms. Some attempt to collaborateacross departments and develop shared goals for courses engineering students take, and theexpectations for their learning environments seems like a fruitful next step in our evolution.
Middleton, J. A., & Krause, S. J., & Beeley, K. R., & Judson, E., & Ernzen, J., & Chen, Y. (2015, June), Examining Relationships and Patterns in Pedagogical Beliefs, Attitudes, and Classroom Practices for Faculty of Undergraduate Engineering, Math, and Science Foundational Courses Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24041
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