- Articulate appropriate course goals and objectives – For Coastal Engineering and Processes (CEP) we designed the course to meet the objectives clearly stated in the syllabus. In fact, the last objective was the main goal of the final project. While these general objectives were clear enough and seemed to work appropriately, I will consider to include more specific objectives in the syllabi of future courses. The rationale for this modification is to provide students with specific topics to assess their own learning.
- Organize and design courses with these goals and objectives in mind – I strongly believe that communicating objectives before each class meeting helps motivating students and provides structure to the course. For each CEP lesson plan, we clearly stated the objectives of the meeting and articulated them at the beginning of class. It was communicated to us that this was a very helpful tool when studying for exams.
- Present material effectively and communicate with students in a variety of settings, including large classes and small groups – My experiences as a TA for large (~80 students) civil and mechanical engineering courses (Water Resources, and Dynamics), TA for a graduate-level interdisciplinary course (Time Series Analysis), and enrollee in the UNH’s Cognate in College Teaching, have convinced me of shifting the paradigm from the traditional passive learning environment to more active strategies, such as guided discussions, in-class small collaboration groups, and inquiry-based assignments. In the fall of 2011, I had the opportunity to evaluate these active approaches as co-instructor of CEP, with resoundingly favorable reception from the students.
- Provide feedback to students to give them clear messages about their performance in ways that will help them improve before the semester is over – Given that in-class activities were very common during the CEP course, informal feedback was provided to the students constantly. Additionally, formal feedback was provided after each homework and project deliverable.
- Incorporate into your teaching the latest scholarship in your field or discipline – Designing a beach stabilization plan is one of the most common tasks of a coastal engineer. While the goals of CEP were to familiarize students with certain concepts regarding coastal processes, it was clear that application of these principles to the design of a beach stabilization plan was the overarching goal of the course. This is consistent with the objectives outlined in the syllabus, and the way project deliverables were organized.