Contents

Chapter: Chapter 6

6.10 The cost of improved teaching

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As I write this section the UK is just (I hope) emerging from recession and the coalition government is considering how to take more than £1011 out of the economy. This will undoubtedly involve reducing the per-student central spend on universities. There was a parallel working group (led by an engineer, Lord Browne) which looked at … Continued »

6.9 Getting promoted

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Promotion is important for the individual and for the institution. It gives you a reward for your commitment and effort, and it allows the institution to encourage helpful behaviour. The criteria for promotion, whether written or unwritten, are set by the employing HEI. Cases based on excellent contributions to teaching tend to be difficult to make … Continued »

6.8 Keeping enough time for research

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It is of course very important to many readers that your technical engineering research does not wither simply because you are enthusiastic about improving the quality of your teaching and your students’ learning. And there is no reason why it should. Your attitude towards both aspects of your work is likely to be the same – you want to … Continued »

6.7 How do we know we have improved anything?

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This is one of the hardest, and most frequently-asked, questions. There are some straightforward, but not very convincing, answers and some more honest responses. I will mention both. I have already referred to a couple of positive surveys by Strobel and van Barneveld (2009) on project-based learning and Hake (1998) on active learning. Evidence like … Continued »

6.6 The “level” of a module

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The issue of assigning to every module a ‘level’ (effectively “first year”, “second year” or whatever) is fraught with difficulty despite being demanded by many national agencies in higher education. To make matters worse there are at least half a dozen different systems, variously using numbers (Levels 0 to 3, 1 to 8, 1 to 10 … Continued »

6.5 Enlivening large classes

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If you employ one or more of the techniques described in Chapter 3 your classes are probably already lively. If not – read on: The role of humour:  I am a fan of the light touch. Not everyone finds humour easy to inject into a lecture, but it is worth considering some of the advantages: … Continued »

6.4 Assessing individual students in team work

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The issue of assessing individual performance during group or team work excites a lot of debate at meetings of academic engineers. Setting aside the practicalities for a moment there are two key questions: How can you be fair to individual students without imposing an unacceptable workload on either the students or yourself? How can you ensure … Continued »

6.3 The spaces we teach in

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Of course most of us have to teach in the only spaces available to us. However just occasionally there is the possibility of designing new spaces, or converting existing rooms. In these cases you need to consider carefully what you want. The raked ‘lecture theatre’ is aptly named, and is a good place for theatre. If the … Continued »

6.2 Resources to support teaching and learning

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There are many sources of materials to support the teacher and the student. The most obvious are textbooks – on paper or on-line – and web sites. As long ago as 2009 I interviewed two graduates who obtained first class degrees from a major UK university: They asserted that they did not open a single … Continued »

6.1 Attendance at classes

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It is a common complaint of engineering lecturers that attendance at their lectures rapidly drops from near 100% for the first lecture to a steady-state value between 40 and 60%.  There is also a good (but not perfect) correlation between attendance and exam performance. The fundamental reason for low attendance is absolutely clear:  Students attend … Continued »