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Managers Of The Learning Process: Preparing Future Faculty To Teach Productively

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.308.1 - 1.308.9

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Paper Authors

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Judith E. Miller

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James E. Groccia

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David DiBiasio

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


.— - ..-. — — Session 2655

—. . . ..- Managers of the Learning Process: Preparing Future Faculty to Teach Productively

David DiBiasio, Judith E. Miller, and James E. Groccia Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Problem Statement and Background

For decades, it has been a recognized blight on the academic landscape that college teachers, in contrast to their colleagues in K- 12, receive little training to prepare-them for teaching. The American Association of Higher Education has recently summarized notable developments in addressing this probleml. Most of the programs cited are limited to training of graduate students for jobs as teaching assistants, and few describe effective teaching programs for engineering graduate students. Thus, most engineering Ph.D.’s who enter academia are very well trained for research, but have little or no training in teaching.

Colleges are continually being challenged to increase productivity and reduce costs. Downsizing of faculty and severe budget cuts are an all-too-common scenario in American institutions of higher learning2’3 . Retention of the global pre-eminence of American higher education system must come from the rethinking of how teaching and learning take place. Approaches must be used that give students more responsibility for learning and reduce the . responsibility of teachers to convey knowledge If we are to transform higher education, in the direction of educational effectiveness and maximum productivity, then new faculty must possess a different set of skills than those trained in the traditional methods of teaching. Doctoral programs, where appropriate, must now include education of graduate students in methods of effective and efficient teaching.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute has had a strong tradition of undergraduate technical education since the inception of the WPI Plan in 1971. The primary accomplishment of the Plan has been the successful implementation of a heavily project-based curriculum. The recent reclassification (by the Carnegie Foundation) of the Institute as a comprehensive university indicates that its doctoral programs have developed to a significant degree. However, until the initiation of the project described in this paper, the school did not provide any opportunities for fiture faculty to learn about teaching. This meant that Ph.D. graduates fi-om WPI hwo pursued academic careers, had no teaching preparation and probably had little knowledge of the strengths of our undergraduate program.


It was our intent to address the general and local problems outlined above by developing,

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Miller, J. E., & Groccia, J. E., & DiBiasio, D. (1996, June), Managers Of The Learning Process: Preparing Future Faculty To Teach Productively Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

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