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Maximizing Your Productivity As A Junior Faculty Member: Being Effective In The Classroom

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Tricks of the Trade: Inside the Class

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.899.1 - 9.899.11

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Paper Authors

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Lori M. Bruce

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J.W. Bruce

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Maximizing Your Productivity as a Junior Faculty Member: Being Effective in the Classroom J.W. Bruce, Lori Mann Bruce Mississippi State University


The most distinguishing difference between “practicing” engineers (in industrial or government) and the university “faculty engineer” are instructional duties. In new engineering educators, inability or insecurities in instructional duties are by far the most common complaint [1]. Furthermore, these new educators face a classroom of students that are possibly hostile to learning and are usually much less prepared than the educator at the same point in their career. The results are low teaching evaluations and high discouragement for the new engineering educator. This paper gives seven simple and easy to remember “tricks of the trade” for new engineering educators to be effective instructors.

1 Introduction

While every Ph.D. engineering program prepares the student for a career in research, many programs fail to prepare, even superficially, the Ph.D. student for a career in instruction [1], [20]. Some universities identify students with aspirations to be engineering faculty and prepare them for the three main faculty duties: instruction, research, and service. Ideally, the future “new engineering educator” (NEE) is educated in, or at least exposed to, learning styles [5], [23], instructional methods [17], [18], basic cognition theory [23], and curriculum development [16]. However, this remains the exception rather than the rule. Other universities leave the majority of the Ph.D. student’s skills development to the student’s advisor and committee. If the student’s committee does not actively direct the student to the necessary training, the motivated student must take the initiative. This student will ask the right people the right questions and ensures that he/she has instructional training and classroom experience before seeking a career in academe. Unfortunately, many students do not do this. As a result, a number of NEEs arrive at their first academic appointment with little to no instructional experience.

The Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University hired twelve NEEs in six different departments during the academic year 2003-2004. Approximately two-third of these NEEs are in their first full-time academic appointment, and come to Mississippi State University with an average of 3.6 semesters of teaching experience in lecture, lab, or recitation. Since most teaching duties for tenure-track engineering faculty are lecture-based courses, it is important to note that MSU’s average first-appointment NEE has 2.0 semesters of lecture class teaching experience. The NEEs who held previous academic appointments reported 8.5 semesters of teaching experience, all in lecture-based courses.

This paper arose from a request by the professional development coordinator in the Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University. When NEEs are hired in the College,

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ©2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Bruce, L. M., & Bruce, J. (2004, June), Maximizing Your Productivity As A Junior Faculty Member: Being Effective In The Classroom Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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