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Background Some Ideas in student-centered teaching (1)Class improvement committees (2)Chat room based communication (3)Voluntary recorded sessions to help.

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Presentation on theme: "Background Some Ideas in student-centered teaching (1)Class improvement committees (2)Chat room based communication (3)Voluntary recorded sessions to help."— Presentation transcript:

1 Background Some Ideas in student-centered teaching (1)Class improvement committees (2)Chat room based communication (3)Voluntary recorded sessions to help to tie things together (4)Bringing practice to the classroom Lots of unanswered questions Listening to Students: Learner-Centered Approaches to Teaching from the Uninformed! All the students in 9 years of teaching Matt Davies Department of Mechanical Engineering A few class improvement committee members …

2 How did I get here and how does it affect my teaching “style?” B.S. Mechanical Engineering – Carnegie Mellon –Extremely intense formal environment –Leans toward the practical M.S. & Ph.D. Aerospace Engineering – Cornell University –Extremely intense very formal environment –Theoretical Taught part-time at Johns Hopkins –Intense and formal –Taught two manufacturing classes National Institute of Standards and Technology –Very practical –Two people in an office –Many visiting students –Extremely collegial – no one called anyone “Dr.” Students & Post- docs had a collegial relationship with research scientists. Nobel Prize winner named “Bill”.

3 Class Improvement Committee Definition (This is not my idea … but whose?) In Syllabus: A class improvement committee will be implemented in this class. The class improvement committee is a group of volunteer students who give real- time feedback to the professor to improve the class. Implementation o Ask for volunteers – 3-5 students in a 50 student class o Meet with them up to once every two weeks o Allow 5 minutes at the end of any period to speak to the class o Get general, immediate, & seemingly mundane feedback – examples: “Write more neatly”; “Erase the board more thoroughly”; “We can’t see behind the projector!”; “Use the blackboard not the tablet PC!?!” o Challenge them: “What did you think college would be like before you came?” “What great things did you imagine professors would do?” “How do we make this the best class you’ve ever taken?” o Implement an early semester survey – report results anonymously o In the end … it is my discretion, but I rarely have to use it!

4 Class Improvement Committee Goals o Real-time corrective feedback that I can implement immediately  Scheduling (Homework, Exams, Reviews)  Extra help in areas where an individual class may be deficient o Change from an “adversarial” to a “collegial” atmosphere in the class – “How can we make this the best class you have ever taken?”  Team atmosphere  Open – not afraid to ask questions and make suggestions  More respectful o Great ideas …  Use a chat room help session – online office hours (2003)  Change to a better textbook (2005)  Use in-class/out of class exams (2005)  Use Camtasia to record extra lectures in problem areas (2009)  Electronics experiments in class (2009)  Make a running definition of mathematical symbols in Moodle (2011)

5 Class Improvement Committee Difficulties and Anticipated Difficulties o Unrealistic requests  Not common – in fact, I wish “crazy” ideas were more common!  Ultimately, I let them know I have discretion, but I cannot recall having to use it o Lack of respect  Opposite occurs when they realize that you value their opinion  More complaints o Time !!!! Where might this lead? o Students tell me how they learn best and how they are best evaluated o Restructuring of the traditional engineering classroom into a true learner- centered classroom o Each class has its own personality – change teaching in response? o How do students think we should teach BIG classes?

6 Class Improvement Committee: Textbook reviews True Story: After a semester long review in 2004, the Class Improvement Committee chose the hardest system dynamics book used at all of the top- ranked mechanical engineering programs over the easier one! Classes have responded well to this choice ever since.

7 Chat room/Wimba-based help sessions What I try to do … Student: I don’t understand the explanation you have given… Instructor: Try thinking about the problem in this way… Student: I guess I still don’t get it… Instructor: Well then, can you imagine a situation where... Student: Oh, you mean... ? Instructor: Yes! You got it! Student: Wow, thanks.

8 Chat room/Wimba-based help sessions Benefits (Intentionally) Limited communication ability o I have to figure out what they don’t understand and why o I have to figure out how to explain in words o They have to understand it in words o I use what I learn about why they don’t understand something to re-explain difficult concepts in class o I can’t just say “Oh, this is how you do it” and draw it on my whiteboard More convenient for the students o They almost always want the time to be 9 PM, the day before HW is due o Many students at once at the time when they are most motivated to understand o Some students ask and others watch o It is s good way to get to know students Challenge – Time !

9 Voluntary recorded lectures … extra help

10 Bringing practice into a fundamental theoretical systems class The class I teach most is about analogies … how do we get that across in the most vivid ways? Labview board, computer data acquisition & a $60 RadioShack Circuit Kit. This is a theoretical class but the students said they needed to “see” things to learn them. I agree but how do we do that? Bring in real experiments, some simple, some complicated. Electric Circuit: Mechanical Engineers “hate” this … or think they do. Pendulum: Mechanical Engineers “love” this … or think they do. Focault Pendulum – Paris.

11 Some of My Many Questions and Concerns…. How can the class improvement idea be expanded? –Learner-centered teaching 1 : professor voluntarily gives up control! –Can a class really be tailor-made to fit an individual class’ personality? Teaching style? Textbook (or not)? Evaluation and grading? Problem-based learning or more lecture-based? –Evaluation of concept-based learning I have used these ideas in other classes (Optics, Biomechanics, Dynamics Systems I) but … How can these ideas be extended to a graduate student research group? How can this be maintained in the face of increasing class sizes? 1 M. Weimer, Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice, Jossey-Bass, 2002.

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