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Experimenting With Learning And Teaching Methods

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.490.1 - 6.490.8

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Earl Owen

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

Session 2148

Experimenting with Learning and Teaching Methods

Earl F. Owen Brigham Young University


This paper describes my current involvement in an ongoing experiment with learning and teaching methods in engineering/ technology courses. In particular, it contrasts student- motivated with teacher-motivated methods of learning. In the latter approach, the instructor determines his students’ program of learning. All topics of study are prescribed by the teacher and explained in his or her classroom. Specific tasks to be performed as homework assignments and/or laboratory experiments are outlined for the students, and tests are scheduled to verify that each topic has been learned as prescribed. All students are required to learn the same topics, at the same rate, and in the same way, under the false assumption that all students will share the teacher’s orientation, pace, and learning style. In a student-motivated approach, on the other hand, students take primary responsibility for their own learning. They decide, within the constraints allowed, what they will learn, in what order and manner. In the classroom sessions, the instructor outlines and contextualizes a body of knowledge; flags ideas, theories, and problems for students to consider; suggests activities and experiments to aid learning; and identifies available resources, including a bibliography. Using this information, students set their own objectives, outline the necessary procedures to accomplish their objectives, and learn the standard topics of their discipline in the manner that best fits their individual learning style. In order to meet grading requirements, this program must also conclude with an effective evaluation of each student’s performance. This paper will describe my experimental use of a student-oriented approach, acknowledging its advantages and disadvantages. I will describe a course in the EET program at BYU to demonstrate specifically how this approach can function in engineering courses.

1. Teaching and Learning Examined

I have been teaching in the American university system for almost twenty years. During this time I have attended closely to the teaching and learning processes, studying learning styles and experimenting with various teaching approaches, trying to understand what motivates students to learn and how to best assist them. This paper describes my recent efforts and conclusions. To illustrate my arguments, I have several stories to tell. These stories relate to my experience with the standard teaching and evaluation methods currently practiced in our educational system and will, I hope, influence the reader to contemplate suggested alternatives.

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Owen, E. (2001, June), Experimenting With Learning And Teaching Methods Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2001 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015