Thursday, September 10, 2009

Noddings 5-7 (sort of)

Having an understanding of logic, epistemology, and an understanding of educational research are all important subject, and especially important if one is going to do research in education. I also believe that if one is going to undertake the task of teaching, one needs to have some sort idea of how people learn, create knowledge, etc. and develop a personal philosophy and theory of learning that influences there teaching practice. K12 teachers are required to develop this philsophy and understand basic theories of child development, epistemology, etc. Many professors and students of education immerse themselves in these topics. Yet I wonder how many professors of engineering (or any other discipline outside of education) have deeply thought about these issues. Most professors do not do any classwork to prepare them to teach, and outside of a personal interest in education or improving their teaching practice, they tend to simply teach the way that they were taught. As a result, you wind up with many professors that are brilliant researchers and well respected in their fields who cannot teach. Conversely, you can also have professors with little or no formal background or training in education that wind up being excellent teachers. This leads me to my two questions: How do theories of learning and knowledge actually affect the way that one teaches, and how do we become agents of change to get professors of engineering (that are not us!) to really think about ways of improving their teaching practice?


jthompson said...

The philosophy stuff is very interesting, but I don’t think it is needed to be a good teacher. Going back to Palmer, it seems that the core of what philosophy is, is reflection on action. An individual learns and witnesses learning and reflects on that and notices how learning took place and creates a sort of theory on how institutions should be run in order to install learning and create their idea of a “good” society.

That being said, I think reflection is key for good teaching. You might not get good teachers who never learned about the philosophy of it, but all good teachers look at their methods, analyze it and continuously work on improving it.

As for change in engineering, this is something I have used a lot of mind power on, and ultimately I found. It is happening. It might seem slow, but there is a lot of in grained mindsets and even if it might look like little is being done, in academic speed, it is going extremely fast. Things don’t change over night, but they are changing. ABET has changed their requirements. All the reports are stating that change is needed. There are more and more engineering education research groups. This discipline is highly funded. Interdisciplinary is a catch phrase and is being used and understood more readily.