Critical self-reflections on the classical teaching culture in engineering

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Critical self-reflections on the classical teaching culture in engineering

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Publication Conference Paper, peer reviewed
Title Critical self-reflections on the classical teaching culture in engineering
Author(s) Koch Svedberg, Gion
Date 2011
English abstract
The classical teaching culture in engineering is determined by a deep-rooted belief system that becoming an engineer means having to endure the worst three to five years of your life of hard and boring math, useless abstract theories of physics and a couple of project works for which one slaves day and night for months in order to get things to work. In this paradigm, engineering studies are seen as a kind of initiation time, after which the newly examined engineer will be welcomed into the arms of the engineering brotherhood. No wonder that young people do not find such studies very enticing anymore. In a globalized world full of interesting, catchy, fun and state of the art educational programs, an old-fashioned style of teaching culture in engineering seems rather outdated. But unfortunately, from my own experience I know that it isn’t. Teachers in engineering at universities tend to teach in the same way as they have experienced during their own studies. This way they preserve and recreate a teaching culture that resists pedagogical reforms despite substantial criticism from all possible sides. Why is this? What is it about the classical teaching culture in engineering that makes it impossible for any teacher adhering to it to obtain good or effective teaching? The objective of this paper is to use long-established pedagogical research results on teaching and student learning to analyse the classical teaching culture in engineering. A discussion of this analysis leads to three underlying problem areas: different epistemologies between engineering sciences and engineering undergraduate education, the hierarchy between research and teaching, and the style of examination and its impact on student learning. Finally, possible ways of improvements are discussed. It is also shown that the CDIO Initiative is a valid alternative to the classical teaching culture in engineering, as it allows their teachers to improve the quality in teaching and to make it effective.
Publisher Technical University of Denmark, DTU
Host/Issue Proceedings of the 7th International CDIO Conference;
ISBN 978‐87‐985272 ‐6‐8
Pages 391-407
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) Engineering teaching culture
teaching style
resistance towards reforms
realism and constructivism
contructive alignment
CDIO Standards
Research Subject Categories::TECHNOLOGY
Note The 7th International CDIO Conference, The Technical University of Denmark, Copenhagen, 20 - 23 June 2011
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