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Lowman’s Model Goes Back to the Movies

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Classroom Strategies – New Engineering Educators Division

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

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Paper Authors


Clifton B. Farnsworth Brigham Young University

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Clifton Farnsworth received B.S. and M.S. degrees in civil engineering from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Utah. He worked as a geotechnical engineer for eight years with the Utah Department of Transportation, spent three years as an Assistant Professor of civil engineering at The University of Texas at Tyler, and the past six years at Brigham Young University with a current appointment as an Associate Professor of construction management.

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Jennifer Retherford P.E. University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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Dr. Retherford is an alumna of the University of Nebraska, Omaha, and received her graduate degrees from Vanderbilt University. She currently teaches a variety of courses supporting the department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of Tennessee. Among many structural engineering courses, Dr. Retherford manages the Senior Design Project course for all undergraduate seniors.

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David A. Saftner University of Minnesota Duluth

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David Saftner is an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He received a BS in Civil Engineering from the United States Military Academy and MS and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the University of Michigan.

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The purpose of this paper is to develop a method of self-assessment for college and university instructors using Lowman’s Two Dimensional Model of Effective College Teaching. The paper provides assessment examples using teachers portrayed in contemporary movies and television. Lowman’s model provides a simple framework that college teachers can use to improve their teaching. This model includes 1) intellectual excitement – the ability to present clearly and stimulate emotional impact related to intellectual activity, and 2) interpersonal rapport – communicating with students in a way that increases motivation, enjoyment, and independent learning (Lowman, 1995). Instructors with an understanding of this model are able to evaluate their individual level of intellectual excitement and interpersonal rapport. This analysis will use Lowman’s proposed descriptors in addition to stratification of levels to categorize contemporary examples. A previous paper (Estes and Welch, 2006) provided an initial assessment of several famous television and movie teachers, such as John Keating, played by Robin Williams, in Dead Poet’s Society. However, the examples in this previous paper are becoming dated, and an updated paper with more contemporary examples would be useful for faculty attempting to better understand and apply Lowman’s model. A rubric is provided to allow instructors to self-assess their teaching on each component of Lowman’s model. This paper will improve educators understanding of Lowman’s two dimensional model of teaching by exploring and rating widely known teachers from contemporary movies and television, expanding on previous work for a wider audience and providing tools to ease implementation. Characters included in this project include Hogwarts professors, Yoda and Obi Wan from the Star Wars series, teachers from recent animated films, including Kung Fu Panda and Monsters University, Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory, and others.

Estes, A. and Welch, R. (2006) Lowman’s model goes to the movies. ASEE Annual Conference, Paper #1134. Lowman, J. (1995). Mastering the techniques of teaching. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA.

Farnsworth, C. B., & Retherford, J., & Saftner, D. A. (2018, June), Lowman’s Model Goes Back to the Movies Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30778

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