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Lowman's Model Goes To The Movies

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Faculty Development Toolkit

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.905.1 - 11.905.9



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Paper Authors


Allen Estes U.S. Military Academy

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Colonel Allen C. Estes is a Professor and Civil Engineering Division Director at the United States Military Academy (USMA). He is a registered Professional Engineer in Virginia. COL Estes received a B.S. degree from USMA in 1978, M.S. degrees in Structural Engineering and in Construction Management from Stanford University in 1987 and a Ph.D. degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1997.

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Ronald Welch U.S. Military Academy

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Colonel Ronald W. Welch is an Associate Professor at the United States Military Academy (USMA). He is a registered Professional Engineer in Virginia. COL Welch received a BS degree in Engineering Mechanics from USMA in 1982 and MS and Ph.D. degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1990 and 1999, respectively.

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

Lowman’s Model Goes to the Movies


Lowman’s Two Dimensional Model for teaching effectiveness has been included in the seminar on Teaching and Learning for the past seven years in the ExCEEd Teaching Workshops. The two dimensional model describes nine different classifications of teachers that range low to high performance in the areas of intellectual excitement and interpersonal rapport. Participant feedback has consistently indicated that the model would be easier to understand if it included examples of teachers in these various categories. This paper uses Lowman’s model to categorize teachers from television and the movies and provide familiar examples that will personalize and aid in the understanding of this well-known model that defines effective teaching. Be advised that this paper contains direct quotes from movies that contain strong language which some may find offensive.

I. Introduction

Quantifying what constitutes effective teaching can be a difficult and controversial task1. Teaching is a very personal activity, and is often dependent on the personality and individual talents of the instructor. What works superbly for one teacher may totally flop for another. Some veterans will admit they cannot define good teaching, but they know it when they see it. While there are an infinite number of ways to teach well, there are some consistent elements, activities and attributes that seem to be present with all good teachers.

In a landmark study, Joseph Lowman2 used teaching award nominations from over 500 students and faculty members to quantify what makes a good teacher. The award nominations, in essence, constituted a statistical database of descriptions of exemplary teaching. The study assembled adjectives and descriptive phrases from the award recommendations, divided them into like categories and tallied the results. The descriptors fell neatly into two statistically independent categories, which Lowman defined as intellectual excitement and interpersonal rapport.

Lowman described intellectual excitement as the clarity of the instructor’s presentations, the instructor’s disciplinary expertise, and the degree to which the students were stimulated emotionally by the classroom experience. The most common adjectives that described this intellectual excitement included enthusiastic, knowledgeable, inspiring, humorous, interesting, clear, organized, exciting, engaging, prepared, and energetic. Interpersonal rapport reflects how much an instructor cares about her students and the degree to which they are effectively motivated by the teacher. The most common descriptive indicators were concerned, helpful, caring, encouraging, challenging, available, fair, friendly, accessible, demanding, approachable, and patient. Lowman created the two-dimensional matrix shown in Figure 1 and divided the categories of intellectual excitement and interpersonal rapport into high, medium and low capabilities. This two-dimensional model then describes nine categories of teachers based on their relative strengths in these two areas. Teachers can range from those who are inadequate (low in both categories) to complete exemplar (high in both categories) with every possible combination in between. The numbers indicate a priority of development from (1) being the

Estes, A., & Welch, R. (2006, June), Lowman's Model Goes To The Movies Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--660

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