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Engineering Faculty Go Back to the Classroom - as Students

In a complete role reversal, here were top faculty members from the Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology sitting at desks while quickly scribbling notes during class.

With the fall semester at Old Dominion University still a few days away, Aug. 18-19 set the stage for the Engineering Faculty Teaching Workshop, where different instructors came to campus to highlight new ways of connecting with and teaching students. The program was the first of its kind for the college, according to Associate Dean Linda Vahala.

"This helps the faculty learn about different student learning styles and different teaching styles," Vahala said. "The faculty really liked it and they got some effective tools to use."

The interactive workshop included seminars on effective communication, professional development and teaching techniques. Ron Welch was one of the invited instructors, representing Excellence in Civil Engineering Education (ExCEEd), which coordinated the workshop for nearly two dozen faculty members. Welch, who is also the chair of civil engineering at the University of Texas at Tyler, gave his charges a lesson in motivation, using his own experiences.

"Every day you get in front of students is a performance," he told the assembled faculty members. "You want to be in front of that classroom more than anywhere else. Nothing else matters."

Gary Schafran, the chair of ODU's civil and environmental engineering department, said students will benefit from the lessons he and his colleagues learned in August.

"The workshop was a valuable experience for both faculty members beginning their first semester of teaching as well as those that have been teaching for decades," he noted. "I have already implemented some of the techniques, and the pedagogy presented at the workshop and the feedback from students has been overwhelmingly positive."

This article was posted on: September 11, 2008

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