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Techniques from Workshops on Teaching: Implementing the Concepts and Evaluating Our Approaches

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Tricks of the Trade in Teaching II

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1415.1 - 22.1415.18



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Paper Authors


Michael Foster George Fox University

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Michael Foster received a B.S. in engineering from Messiah College and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from Drexel University. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at George Fox University. His research interests include control systems education and thermal/fluid science applications.

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Justin R. Vander Werff P.E. Dordt College

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Justin Vander Werff joined Dordt's engineering faculty in the summer of 2008. He is a licensed professional engineer (P.E.) in Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, and Missouri. He has taught Structural Analysis, Soil Mechanics and Foundation Design, Machine Design, Mechanics of Materials, Statics and Dynamics, and Materials Science, and Structural Steel Design. He is a professional member of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and serves as the faculty advisor for the Dordt College ASCE student chapter.

Prior to coming Dordt, he served for several years as a structural design engineer for a consulting engineering firm in northwest Indiana, designing structural steel and reinforced concrete structures for a variety of facilities in heavy industry including steel mills, oil refineries, power plants, chemical plants, and substations.

He has also served as an instructor in Iowa State University's civil engineering department. During his graduate studies at Iowa State, he did research with the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) investigating bridge design in seismic regions.

His ongoing research with Iowa State University and the California Department of Transportation includes seismic structural load distribution studies, bridge connection details for seismic regions, and investigation into using accelerated bridge construction methods in seismic regions.

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Techniques from Workshops on Teaching: Implementing the Concepts and Evaluating Our ApproachesABSTRACT:The challenges for new engineering educators abound and there are never enough hours ina day or days in a week. Young educators may lack confidence in course subject materialgiven that they have never taught (the topic and/or in a classroom) before. In addition,their knowledge of teaching pedagogy and classroom management strategies often lacksrefinement since their education is almost exclusively in a field of engineering rather thaneducation. Teaching workshops have been developed to expose instructors in highereducation to practical teaching pedagogy and effective classroom management. Theseworkshops often emphasize research-based methods including use of clearly definedlearning objectives and implementing active learning techniques in the classroom. Suchmethods can be very useful and have been shown to be successful; however, for the newengineering educator, the implementation of such methods can be mentally and emotionallychallenging and time consuming.This paper provides the authors' reflection, as two relatively new engineering educators, ontheir personal implementation of learning objectives and active learning techniques in theclassroom in their second and third years of teaching. We feel that our comparativeevaluations are unique and helpful because we teach at two different teaching-focusedinstitutions and have employed methods and techniques that we have gleaned fromattending two different, unrelated workshops. While both workshops promoted activelearning techniques, one workshop was geared primarily towards engineering education andincluded topics on developing appropriate learning objectives while the other workshop wasmultidisciplinary with attendees from the humanities and the sciences and focused primarilyon active learning in the classroom.Both of the authors found their respective workshops to be very beneficial, both haveendeavored to incorporate techniques from these workshops, and both have had successand struggles in the implementation of these methods. One aspect discussed is thedevelopment of learning objectives which drives lecture content and enables to students toreview their own mastery of the material. In addition, a specific active-learning techniquethat has been implemented by one of the authors in an engineering course is presented indepth. The approach involves working on a conceptually-focused quiz problem throughindividual work, group work, and class discussion throughout a class period. This methodmotivates the students to engage, discuss, and learn together actively as they workcooperatively with a unified focus.This reflection of the specific approaches to integrating appropriate learning objectives andactive learning techniques into our engineering courses can provide concurrent perspectivefor other new engineering educators seeking to improve their effectiveness in the classroomand experienced educators looking for fresh ways to engage students. As a result of theauthors' experiences and reflection, a collection of tips for success in implementing specificteaching strategies is provided.

Foster, M., & Vander Werff, J. R. (2011, June), Techniques from Workshops on Teaching: Implementing the Concepts and Evaluating Our Approaches Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18911

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