Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 2 hours / session


There are no prerequisites for this course.

Course Description

This seminar was created in response to an appeal by science graduate students planning to pursue careers as academics. They wanted to complement the training they were getting in research with the opportunity to improve their ability to teach. Thus, this course was put together to demystify such topics as: using the latest research in student learning to improve teaching; developing a course; promoting active learning, problem solving and critical thinking; designing exams and assignments; dealing with problems and pitfalls in teaching with an emphasis on teaching science and engineering.

One of the most important findings in educational research is that students learn best by doing. Each class session will include opportunities for you to engage in active learning, small group discussions, and critical thinking. In-class and out-of-class assignments and readings will help you develop your own teaching practice (and I have chosen the word "practice" intentionally, because, effective learning (like effective anything) requires practice!!).

I hope this course will aid you in developing your professional identity as a teacher by giving you insights into how things work in the academy, and by providing opportunities for you to practice your professional skills.

Intended Learning Outcomes*

If I've done a good job as the instructor and you've put effort into the course, by the end of the semester, you should:

  1. Be familiar with the latest research in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) learning in higher education, including research on diversity.
  2. Have an understanding of how to apply that research in your own teaching.
  3. Improve a set of teaching skills, including: constructing intended learning outcomes; lecturing; using active learning techniques; and employing feedback to improve your teaching.
  4. Have a better appreciation for the skills needed to: assess student learning, use and address some of the challenges that come with teaching college students.
  5. Be able to write a teaching philosophy statement.

* We will talk about how to write intended learning outcomes. What do you notice about the characteristics of this list? For example, how is each learning outcome phrased?


Because I hope this is a class in which you will learn from one another as well as from me, my expectations about our work together this semester include:

  • That you are willing to share your knowledge, opinions, and ideas in class.
  • That you are open to the ideas and knowledge of your peers.
  • That you will provide one another with clear, honest, concrete, and sensitive feedback on work that is done.
  • That any concept that is unclear or confusing will be explored and examined


You are expected to complete the relevant reading (PCR = pre-class reading) before each class session. Some of the readings have been taken from the following 3 books. You may wish to purchase the some or all of them (if not for this course – sometime in the future).

Buy at Amazon McKeachie, W. J., et al. Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers. 9th ed. D.C. Health & Co., 1994. ISBN: 9780669194340.

Buy at Amazon Wankat, P. C., and F. S. Oreovicz. Teaching Engineering. McGraw-Hill, 1992. ISBN: 9780070681545.

Also available at the Purdue University School of Chemical Engineering website.

Buy at Amazon Davis, B. Gross. Tools for Teaching. Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1993. ISBN: 9781555425685.


There are 12 short post-class assignments. Dues dates and descriptions are provided in the Assignments section.

In addition, each class will have at least one small-group, active learning assignment.

Finally, each student will participate in a microteaching session, wherein s/he will give a 6–10 minute presentation to her/his peers (the rest of the class). Microteaching guidelines (for presenters and observers) are provided in the Assignments section.

The grade for this class is either Pass or No record. In order to pass the class, you must satisfactorily complete all of the Post-Class Assignments, and participate in class discussions and activities.

Course Calendar


Introduction to the class

Why this class?

Short History of Teaching and Learning the American University

2 What we know about student learning in higher education Assignment 1 due
3 Developing your teaching philosophy Assignment 2 due
4 Course Design & Planning: Planning Backward, Learning Outcomes & Strategic Teaching Assignment 3 due
5 Teaching Methodologies: Part I - Lecturing Assignment 4 due
6 Teaching Methodologies: Part II - Active Learning, Why and How? Assignment 5 due
7 What Can Nerds Learn from Actors? Assignment 6 due
8 Designing Homework and Exam Questions Assignment 7 due
9 Teaching Problem Solving Assignment 8 due
10 Grading and Assessment Assignment 9 due
11 Teaching in a Multicultural Classroom Assignment 10 due
12 Microteaching - Group #1  
13 Microteaching - Group #2