June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
New Engineering Educators
14.959.1 - 14.959.7
Plain Advice For New Engineering Faculty On How To Manage Classes and Motivate Students
To be a new engineering faculty member is to have a very tough job. In most cases, you just finished your dissertation after several years of sweat and toil, and suddenly, with hardly any pause, you find yourself in a new place with new colleagues and huge new demands on your time. In addition to precipitous research requirements, you have new courses to teach, and you may not have taught much previously. Students pay increasingly hefty amounts and they rightfully trust you to impart knowledge and skills and guide them into gainful employment. All these expectations are enough to cause anyone unwanted stress. How will you do it? In this article, the authors, fairly new to academia themselves, share some simple advice on how to manage a class as a whole, motivate students individually, and be efficient with your time.
Plan Your Courses
Design your courses to give students an appropriately broad command of all topics. Do not give one topic excessive depth at the expense of other topics. Try to address the topics found on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. Add value to each class period.1 Be decisive, confident, and knowledgeable on the subject being taught.2
Design assignments, projects, and exams to be both rigorous and fair.3 Gear the lectures to the assignments, and gear the assignments to the exams. Keep the audience in mind, and be mindful of the scholastic background and maturity of the students in your course.2 Do not make the course easy in an attempt to please students, as a course without some difficulty is ultimately a disservice to the students and yourself.
Problems can arise when there are multiple sections of the same course taught by different faculty members. In these situations, try to be consistent across all sections. Meet with the faculty who will teach the course and come to a general agreement on the syllabus. Choose the same textbook. Give roughly the same assignments, projects, and exams. As you can guess, your students will complain if they think the workload in your course is too heavy, and students in other sections will complain if they detect the workload in your course is too light. You will hear about it, the other faculty will hear about it, and so will the department head.
What happens if you meet resistance when trying to reach some consensus on the syllabus? Say you want to update the course with some new topics or experiments, but other faculty want to teach the course as it has previously been taught. Unless you can convince the other faculty of the merits of the proposed changes and promise to help with preparation of the new lectures, then you should just follow the status quo. Be patient, as eventually you will likely be able to revise the course without making waves. In the meantime, pour your creative efforts into your research.
Freyne, S., & Hale, M., & Durham, S. (2009, June), Plain Advice For New Engineering Faculty On How To Manage Classes And Motivate Students Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5102
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