Can a Single Course on Teaching in Engineering Have Impact? - Seminar

Event Date: January 26, 2012
Speaker: Robert J. Gustafson, P.E.; Director, Engineering Education Innovation Center; Honda Professor for Engineering Education; Professor, Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Speaker Affiliation: The Ohio State University
Time: 3:30 p.m.
Location: Forney, G124
Contact Name: Dr. Demetra Evangelou
Contact Phone: 494-4158
Contact Email:

A course entitled "College Teaching in Engineering" has been offered to more than 300 individuals over a fourteen-year period. It could be expected that students experiencing a structured course on teaching in a discipline will be more likely to pursue a teaching career, approach teaching in a scholarly way, and be a successful teacher. However, there is little data available to support this hypothesis. This paper contributes to such data based on an analysis of a combination of course evaluations at the time of offering and a survey of former students (course alumni). 

A qualitative analysis of written responses to a question regarding course impact on their teaching was done for both responses received through end-of-course evaluations and alumni surveys. The responses were placed into six major categories based on Fink's Taxonomy of Significant Learning. The respondents unanimously indicated the course had an impact. Although in both data sets the Fink Categories of fundamental knowledge and application received the highest percentage of responses, all categories did receive responses. In addition, there was a significant shift from fundamental knowledge to integration between the post-class and alumni response sets. The content and distribution of responses would indicate that an understanding of a breadth of concepts involved in creating a significant learning experience was part of the impact of the course.

Alumni survey questions focused on specific class objectives. An interesting immediate impact was implied by a reported change in their own approach to learning as a student. Although comparative data is not available for non-course participants, other indicators of involvement, like their reading about and discussing teaching, participating in the scholarship of teaching and learning, were at significant rates.

The course does appear to have positive impact on both students who move on to academic careers and those who do not.   Students' perceptions and analysis of their responses indicate they are better prepared for the teaching element of an academic career.