Young Faculty Encouragement

Audience Member: I am Chuck Pezeshki. I am the Associate Director of the School of MME at Washington State University, and I am a simple engineer. I want you to know that. There has been a lot of analysis and not a lot of synthesis in the panel and I will tell you what I am going to do about this problem because one of the big things is incentives. We have three faculty that we are hiring this year, it is great.

We are a Research 1 university, which means that we have a research mission. We are hiring them for the various research things; I am going to make a performance contract with my young faculty on a team level to integrate various new pedagogical new techniques that this group has suggested because I respect everyone here as an engineer and education researcher.

However, I also believe that our Research 1 mission on things like nanotechnology and stuff is really important. So we are going to focus on dissemination of those modern techniques with the notion of a performance contract that guarantees a reward for a certain percentage of time put into teaching. So we take the uncertainty out of the young faculty’s worry thing, and we actually use the teams that we talk about that we are supposed to be building all the time instead of worrying about the individual.

Moderator: Thank you, it sounds like Washington State has solved the problem.

[laughter]

Moderator: Sheri, comments?

Sheri Sheppard: Well I actually appreciate that you mentioned the issue time. We talk about doing more but you know people only have 24 hours in a day and so your acknowledging that putting it on the table in terms of time is important. I also appreciate that you mentioned “team,” you know, that teaching is not a private thing it is a community thing.

I would hope that maybe the teams are not just the junior faculty but get some of the senior faculty too, because that dialogue is incredibly important both ways.

Moderator: OK, Elaine was next.

Elaine Seymour: I was pleased to hear enthusiasm in what you just said because one of the things that we will have to see if we are going to answer the question of what at the end of the year is going to change, are more radicalized seniors. Radicalized seniors are very, very important to change because without leadership from the chairs, deans, provosts, and the senior members of the faculty it was hard for young faculty to take the challenge seriously.

The more radicalized seniors we see the happier I would be.

Moderator: Jim?

Jim Pellegrino: I would add one thing to the team concept and that is, think about the preparation of future engineering educators. One of the most successful ways that I have found to get faculty to change was to pair them up with graduate assistants that were given to them as extra bonuses to help them with changing some of the pedagogy. One of the things it did was a very interesting thing.

It got the faculty to articulate philosophies and epistemologies of teaching and learning, and the teaching assistants got to delve inside the heads of faculty in ways that they typically do not do in normal TA experience. Think about also the preparation of the next generation of faculty and using team concepts that involve senior faculty, junior faculty, and graduate students.

Moderator: Gary?

Gary Gabriele: The only other thing I would add is that just because a newer area such as nanotechnology biotech is appearing in engineering does not mean it is immune to engineering education research. We need to understand what are the barriers to students understanding these new areas and I think there is an opportunity to have these young folks work on those as well.

Moderator: Elaine?

Elaine Seymour: One thing that we have not done in this country is educate our TAs and we will perpetuate problems if we do not grapple with that problem very, very soon.

Sheri Sheppard: In talking about nanotechnology and other traditional research areas I think there is actually increasing pressure from NSF to say how do those reach out into the community, so there is an embedded teaching element more and more even in those more traditional grant areas.

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