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On the Quality of Teaching: The Role of a “Caring” Faculty

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Faculty and Program Developments, Exchanges, and Best Practices

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

25.996.1 - 25.996.15



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Paper Authors


Waddah Akili Iowa State University

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Waddah Akili has been in the academic arena for more than 37 years. He has held academic positions at Drexel University, Philadelphia, Penn. (1966-1969), at King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (1969-1987), and at the University of Qatar, Doha, Qatar (87-00). Akili’s major field is geotechnical engineering and materials. His research work and experience include characterization of arid and semi arid soils, piled foundations, pavement design and materials, and concrete durability. His interests also include contemporary issues of engineering education in general, and those of the Middle East and the Arab Gulf States in particular.

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On the Quality of Teaching: The Role of a “Caring” Faculty AbstractThe quality of teaching can be improved by having faculty become more sensitive tostudents’ needs even if the faculty member is not fully committed to modernteaching/learning methods. A caring faculty understands, encourages and supportsstudents’ individuality and is willing to listen and provide advice. A caring facultyunderstands that individuality is manifested in- among other things- different learningstyles, visions, and interests. In addition, a caring college faculty realizes that intelligenceis not always the most significant factor in students’ performance; and some other factors–such as willingness and ability to focus, concentrate and communicate- may be evenmore important, and are a function of students’ emotional well-being. A caring facultysupports individuality not only with encouragement and understanding, but also by nottrying to mold students to an image of what they “should be” and how they “shouldbehave”. Instead, students should be encouraged to realize their own visions andexpectations, rather than the expectations of others. A caring college faculty fosterscuriosity which is essential for gaining knowledge. Thus, faculty members have to realizeand acknowledge that they are humans themselves, and it is all right to make mistakes.Also, caring faculty should acknowledge that in many situations there is no “right” or“wrong” way, but ought to show better approaches or solutions, rather than emphasizingwhat the student has done “wrong”. In essence, the faculty should provide guidance andfeedback instead of criticism.The paper focuses on the role of the professor in creating a positive environment wherestudents feel comfortable being themselves and enjoying and appreciating the totalexperience of learning. In this type of environment students feel that they are important,that their needs can be met, and that others (faculty members, graduate assistants, labtechnicians, staff members, etc.) experience joy and satisfaction in helping them get theirneeds met. It is also argued that when the teacher is able to focus on assisting the studentsin meeting their needs, the teacher’s own needs get met. In concluding, the authorpresents his own reflections based on his experience as an engineering student and afaculty member. The author has a firm conviction that the only professor who belongs ina classroom is a caring professor.

Akili, W. (2012, June), On the Quality of Teaching: The Role of a “Caring” Faculty Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21753

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