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Professors As Practitioners: Is This Important To Students?

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



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Page Numbers

4.428.1 - 4.428.6

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Matthew Dettman

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

Session 1421

Professors As Practitioners: Is This Important to Students?

Assistant Professor Matthew A. Dettman Western Kentucky University


It seems like every recent education conference has a significant amount of discussion on the need for tying together educators and practitioners by either educators practicing or practitioners educating. The value of incorporating practical application is clear to both educators and practitioners, but is it clear to the students? The purpose of this study was to question students in the application-oriented field of Civil Engineering Technology and Construction Management and get their view of having practitioners in the classroom. More specifically, students’ views of the importance or value of having professors who actively engage in professional practice in addition to their teaching duties were explored. The questions were few and straightforward with a chance for general comments as the last question. This study was used to determine the students understanding of the need for real world knowledge on the part of the faculty. If the understanding was there, responses to the questions could be used to refine this practice with the students interests in mind. If the understanding was not there, steps would be taken to clarify this point to the students early in their educational career. This paper will present the results of this study and suggestions to enhance the concept of professors as practitioners. The questionnaire was also distributed to a Civil Engineering program to determine the difference in perception of this concept in an Engineering Technology program and an Engineering program.

1. Introduction

Without exception, every engineering education conference I have attended has had significant discussion regarding the involvement of practitioners in the classroom and involving professors in professional practice. The conference that stands out specifically was the 1995 ASCE Civil Engineering Education Conference. This particular conference is not held annually, but rather every five years or so. The goal of this conference is to try to focus the Civil Engineering education community on the task of creating an educational environment that is best for the students and the profession. Part of the conference materials included a report which summarized the outcome of past conferences dating back to 1979. References to “Bridging the gap” between practitioners and educators and having “Licensed Professional Engineers” as professors were found in every conference summary.

So, are we doing this? Are we any better off than we were in 1979? More important, are the students benefitting? Are the students aware of how important it is to have Professional Engineers in the classroom? With these questions in mind, a short questionnaire was developed to ask the students to indicate whether or not it was important to have practicing professionals in the classroom. The survey was given to students in an ABET accredited Civil Engineering Technology (CET) curriculum and in an ABET accredited Civil Engineering (CE) curriculum.

Dettman, M. (1999, June), Professors As Practitioners: Is This Important To Students? Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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