Civil engineers who shared their experience and advice in "Explore Engineering Careers in Education" responded to a few questions we did not get to during the live roundtable discussion. Here are their answers to the first question in this series of posts:
Today's question: How important is lecturing in your role as a civil engineering educator?
(Answers are based on individual experiences and are not necessarily representative of practices at all educational institutions)
Ken Fridley, Ph.D, F.ASCE, Senior Associate Dean for Administration, University of Alabama, College of Engineering:
Lecturing" is important, but it really is only one part of "teaching." I know some great teachers who are not great lecturers, because they do a lot of project-based and discussion-based teaching. The important thing is for each faculty member to find a style or method of teaching that best fits them, the content or material taught, and their students learning styles.
Brock E. Barry, P.E., Ph.D., F.ASCE, Professor Department of Civil & Mechanical Engineering
United States Military Academy:
I would suggest that the term "lecturing" has a negative connotation to it. Everyone has been "lectured" by a parent as in their youth for something they may have done wrong (in my case, absolutely did wrong). Those are not great experiences. Now translate that to the classroom. Nobody wants to be lectured about engineering. My point is that the best "lectures" are a two-way conversation about the topic. A one-way dialogue is not effective for anyone. It is best to ensure that you are keeping your audience engaged with the learning by making it an active learning experience. Provide opportunities for asking/answering questions, peer instruction, demonstrations, think-pair-share….and on and on. Perhaps the real question is "how important is communication as an educator?" To that I would respond, it is very critical. You can have all the solutions rolling around in your head to solve the biggest problems facing society, but if you cannot communicate them, what good are they? Same applies to classroom communication. You must be effective in the methods you use to impart knowledge.
Monica Palomo, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE, M.ASCE, Professor, Civil Engineering Department, California State Polytechnic University-Pomona:
I think that a professor's teaching style should not be based on delivering the content as a lecture. I prefer to approach learning as a journey where students experience the knowledge acquisition and its use in different ways until they master it. While the professors' voice is important to guide the learning, students need to be engaged and use their voices and opinions to critically think and make conclusions. The problems that society faces now are too complicated, lecturing as a way of teaching or learning doesn't provide the skills that engineers need to develop the innovative solutions that support the well-being of today's and future generations.
If you missed our live session watch the recording posted on the Career Discovery web page collaborate.asce.org/careerdiscovery. Also register there for future roundtable sessions exploring civil engineering careers in industry and construction – and bring your questions for our panelists!
Jennifer Hofmann Aff.M.ASCE
Manager, Professional Advancement