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Exploring The Teaching Challenges Of Engineering Faculty: What Do They Really Want To Know?

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Understanding Students: Cognition

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.565.1 - 8.565.10



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Paper Authors

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Matthew Eliot

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Angela Linse

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Jennifer Turns

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

Session 1330

Exploring the Teaching Challenges of Engineering Faculty: What do they really want to know?

Jennifer Turns, Matt Eliot, Angela Linse University of Washington

Abstract: The engineering education community currently focuses a great deal of attention on helping engineering educators adopt effective teaching practices. While strategies in current use have had an impact on engineering teaching and learning, the persistence of engineering courses in which lecture is the primary teaching method indicates that there is room for improvement. We suggest that the success of current strategies is limited by the knowledge we have about the concerns of engineering educators. To address this, we are conducting research on engineering educator teaching challenges. To collect data, we are tapping a unique source — a program that has been highly successful in supporting engineering faculty as they implement effective instructional methods in their courses. This paper reports on this work to date.

Introduction Ensuring excellence in engineering education is an important goal (National Science Foundation & U.S. Department of Education, 1980; National Research Council, 1995, 1996; National Science Foundation, 1996). In response, the engineering education community has become increasingly committed and responsive to requests for changes in the way that we educate and prepare engineers for the future. For example, a number of organizations and stakeholders have sponsored initiatives focused on defining new goals, developing materials, and providing resources. Such efforts include NEEDS – the National Engineering Education Database (a digital library of educational technologies), the NSF Course Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement program (that supports resource development projects), the new ABET outcome-based accreditation policy, and the NSF Coalitions program (that brought together institutions around coalition-specific missions and large-scale curricular reform).

Work directly with faculty has been a key element of efforts to enhance engineering education. Such efforts to support faculty with their teaching activities can be collectively termed instructional development. Strategies for supporting faculty include workshops, one-on-one consultations, support at campus-wide centers, support at engineering specific centers for teaching and learning, and creation of large scale communities (e.g., the coalitions).

There are clearly a number of tradeoffs among these various strategies. Workshops are a common practice in instructional development; however their success has been limited (Mann, 2001). Although individual consultations may be more effective for fostering lasting change than workshops (Gillespie et al., 2002; Lewis and Povlacs Lunde, 2001), workshops can reach much larger numbers of faculty. Although many universities have a campus-wide instructional development centers offering a variety of services, relatively few engineering faculty participate in campus-wide instructional development programs, in part because they are perceived as irrelevant or useless (Brent et Felder, 1999). Thus, campus teaching centers have had relatively little impact on how engineering faculty teach (Brent et al., 1999) and the practice of spending time and effort

Eliot, M., & Linse, A., & Turns, J. (2003, June), Exploring The Teaching Challenges Of Engineering Faculty: What Do They Really Want To Know? Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12250

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