Albuquerque, New Mexico
June 24, 2001
June 24, 2001
June 27, 2001
6.570.1 - 6.570.8
In Pursuit of Teaching Excellence in the Classroom -- Instructor Summer Workshop at West Point
Joseph P. Hanus and Mark D. Evans
United States Military Academy, West Point
The Army calls it “Train the Trainer”. It is the program of instruction given to soldiers who will be training other soldiers in critical military tasks. Emphasis is placed on ensuring that instructing soldiers know the tasks and standards well, and can deliver an effective class. The stakes are high for most of these tasks, simply because lives depend on their proper execution. Clearly, we do not face the same level of urgency in the engineering classroom, but that does not diminish the professional requirement to train new instructors in techniques for delivering high- quality instruction. Engineering students will rise to the high educational standards set for them in the classroom. Sending untrained instructors into the classroom can result in a lower standard of instruction, can diminish the expectations and interest of the students, and may ultimately reduce the quality of engineers in the profession.
The Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy places great emphasis on training instructors prior to their entering the classroom to teach engineering courses. Our goal is that students, on the first day of class, will not be able distinguish between rookie instructors and veteran teachers. This standard is achieved by devoting significant resources (mostly time), to the new instructors’ education and preparation during the summer when they first arrive. The program of teacher-instruction is called the Instructor Summer Workshop (ISW), which the first author has directed for the department during the last two summers.
The Instructor Summer Workshop has evolved over the decades, since it was first conducted in the 1940’s, shortly after WWII. The ISW program is reported to have its origins in the Mechanics Department, whose faculty had the reputation of being among the best teachers at USMA. The ISW program continues to evolve to ensure that new instructors achieve the highest quality instruction, information, and preparation for teaching. The earliest ISW programs began with new instructors observing veteran instructors teach class to demonstrate good teaching techniques. The new instructors would then be required to teach a block of lessons (3 to 4 contiguous lessons with a common theme) of a common engineering course and mimic the veteran instructor’s techniques. This early process was effective, but over the years, several 1
“Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2001, American Society for Engineering Education” Ã
Evans, M., & Hanus, J. (2001, June), In Pursuit Of Teaching Excellence In The Classroom Instructor Summer Workshop At West Point Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. https://peer.asee.org/9367
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