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Finding Yourself In The Classroom; Finding The Classroom In Your Life

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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

6.500.1 - 6.500.5



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Paper Authors

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Kristen Larson

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Jeffrey Newcomer

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

Session 1475

Finding Yourself in the Classroom; Finding the Classroom in Your Life Jeffrey L. Newcomer Western Washington University

Kristen A. Larson Pacific Lutheran University


Many new faculty members find themselves in a classroom having received neither experience as teachers nor instruction on teaching during graduate school. While mentoring programs1,2 and short course options3 do exist for some, most new faculty head into the classroom for the first time armed with only a packet of lecture notes and a recollection of the professors that they had found to be most engaging and a vague plan for emulating them. In a situation such as this, material coverage and mere survival become classroom priorities. It is easy for new faculty to overly concentrate on the academic content of each lecture, not concerning themselves with the context in which the classroom resides. Comfortably and confidently creating a dynamic learning environment takes more than just command of course material. To be happy and effective in the classroom, new faculty need to address two issues outside of the classroom: how teaching fits with personal priorities and career goals, and how teaching is valued and supported in the local academic culture. This paper offers tips for new faculty on learning to place the classroom in the context of personal priorities and local culture garnered from two different perspectives and points on the learning curve. This paper addresses issues of balancing teaching, research, and service from the perspective of personal priorities and goals. It discusses approaches to developing and maintaining a personal identity in the local teaching culture, while at the same time finding or creating a support network that works to meet individual needs. Finally, it offers some advice for improving classroom mechanics through preparation and record keeping, and for improving communication with students.

Teaching and Personal Priorities

The job of a professor is multi-faceted. Most institutions say that the job has three components: teaching, scholarship, and service, and balancing these is a constant challenge.4,5 The reality is that at least one of these components is valued above the others at every institution.6 While it is important to discover what the explicit and implied priorities are at a particular school, it is also important to discover which of these aspects are personally interesting, engaging, and rewarding. There are many traps that are easy to fall into, such as committing yourself to more activities than you can possibly do well. One of the greatest dangers, however, is a subtler pitfall: trying to mold yourself into the professor that you believe senior faculty and administrators want you to be. Certainly you want to heed the advice of your seniors, but always tempered with an understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses, and most importantly your own priorities. “Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education”

Larson, K., & Newcomer, J. (2001, June), Finding Yourself In The Classroom; Finding The Classroom In Your Life Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9274

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