Engineering and Technology Education Division – Teaching Tips

By Joseph A. Scarcella, Ph.D.

People become teachers in the engineering and technology education profession for many different reasons. Most that choose to teach respond well to challenges and are proud of what they do. Their wanting to help others becomes a major part of their reasons for teaching.

Considering this, an overview of some of many teaching tips are presented. Should one be new to engineering and technology education teaching, it is hoped that this overview will be useful.

Characteristics of Good Teachers

Engineering and technology educators are catalysts for student learning and development. They are the individuals that transmit and provide mechanisms for increasing technological literacy, enhancing economic development through increased knowledge about technology related professions, and increasing awareness by demonstrating that quality of work has value in the workforce.

Successful technology educators have a solid, healthy and productive relationship with students. Most of the credit for this success goes to the teacher?s knowledge of students as human beings, and the needs, drives and desires they continually try to satisfy through teaching. Although all the characteristics of good teachers cannot be included, some examples might help.

  • Be professional, the professional teacher is sincere, straightforward and honest.
  • Accept all students where they are in their learning, this includes all their faults and all their problems.
  • Teachers are role models, the actions and safety practices both during instruction and on the job site have a critical effect on the student behavior.
  • Keep up with trends related to the industry. Professional journals, periodicals, technical reports, and other sources offer valuable information to teachers.
  • Attempt to carefully analyze the personality, the thinking, and the ability of each student?no two students are alike.
  • Teachers should continually evaluate their performance, effectiveness and the standard of learning achieved by the students.

The attitudes teachers display, and the manner in which they develop their instruction contribute to the impression (positive or negative) students have about the teacher.

Engineering and technology educators come in all sizes, shapes, and act in a variety of different ways. Most are not chosen because they were already good teachers. They are chosen because they demonstrated something that indicated that they could become good teachers. They have the required formal education; they have the intelligence, the discipline, and the moral character that teachers must have to inspire students.

Understanding Students

Engineering and technology educators understand that individuals learn differently. Most students are intelligent, but may have different strengths and combinations of intelligence?all can be enhanced with practice. Students learn because they want to learn. While some students learn in spite of the instruction they receive, the reasons they learn and the methods by which they learn are varied. Thus, an understanding of how students learn is particularly important. Technology educators are able to develop materials, design curriculum, and plan instruction. They also understand and apply the principles of learning (i.e., motivation, transfer of learning, retention, reinforcement and assessment theories).

Engineering and technology educators understand that teaching and learning are a process. For the teacher, careful planning and preparation, in addition to skilled presentation are necessary for student success. Learning on the other hand, is an active process of the student. Styles and student rates of learning may vary, and the factors that impact learning depends upon student readiness, life experiences, application of what is being taught, and understanding and knowledge of what is expected, repetition, age, intelligence, sex, handicaps and learning disadvantages. Teachers must create a climate for learning and should keep students motivated, keep students informed, approach students as individuals, give credit when due, criticize positively, be consistent, admit errors and the like.

How To Be An Effective Engineering and Technology Educator

Education and workforce are not enough to satisfy the needs for meeting student academic performance or for the making of a good teacher. Education and workforce background however does enhance one’s teaching as it compliments their pedagogy. Knowing how to teach and what to teach are the key. Curriculum and course requirements, assessment, class management, discipline and attendance procedures, and safety requirements as they relate to the developing of activities using tools, machinery, equipment, and materials, etc. are the underpinnings for success. While these might sound like simple tasks, they are the minimum requisites required of all teachers.

The first and most difficult task for any new teacher is determining how to organize course materials. Following are some ideas on how to curriculum materials.

  • Ask other teachers, administrators, or others if there are approved curriculum materials in your state.
  • Attempt to locate materials developed by the teacher who previously taught your assigned courses.
  • Talk with other teachers around the state who teach similar courses.
  • Contact your state department of education. They may have insight and recommendations about approved curriculum materials.
  • Do research at libraries and through professional publications and organizations related to the profession.
  • Seek information from bureaus and associations related to the field.

Once a teacher has established the content that they want to teach it is recommended that they start with a basic framework for the course. It is relatively easy to develop a more complete course guide once the components are in place.

Let’s face it, when teaching engineering and technology education; it is essential that one not only have background in teaching, but also that they stay abreast of all changes and developments. It should be remembered, as engineering and technology education is the study of technology, integrating science and mathematics into its curriculum, it should also integrate academics with career and technical education through technological studies. Engineering and technology education serves students K-12, postsecondary, and through formal and informal educational delivery systems. The goal of engineering and technology education is Technological Literacy for All.

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