Preparing for the lab session and technical lecture in ME 4006 (Mechanical Engineering Lab)

As a part of my fellowship requirements, I had to teach a lab session of five students and deliver a technical lecture to a class of almost sixty students. I was excited and nervous at the same time to have the opportunity of teaching a big class ever. I knew that it would not be an easy task for me as I was doing it for the first time in my life. So, I arranged a practice lecture one week before the actual lecture. I invited my adviser and other GTAs to my practice lecture. To get along with the equipment and classroom, my adviser reserved a classroom almost similar to the original scheduled classroom. After the mock presentation, I received some valuable comments regarding my slide design and presentation skills from my adviser and other GTAs. I think it was very helpful and necessary to improve my presentation. To practice the lab session, I attended a lab session administered by the lead GTA of the lab. It gave me the ideas about the issues that I might need to address during my lab. I also reviewed the background or the knowledge required to conduct the lab session and the technical lecture. For the technical lecture, I organized my talk and also video recorded my mock presentation at home. This is how I prepared the lectures and achieved confidence about them.

PBL can be promoted by online video lectures

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Learning does not stop right after graduation. It is a lifelong process. Learning in school helps us to develop self-authorship. The grades we achieve in school are not true reflection of knowledge. It does not mean that they cannot improve anymore after passing the class. Moreover, the motivation for learning to receive a good grade may not work for all. As different people learn in different ways, an old fashioned lecturing in a large room may not be engaging for all. Some students may need one-to-one interaction and much attention in a class. The online video lecturing is very useful in this case. Students can sees the lectures as many times as they want until they get a good grasp of it. It also provides the opportunity for the instructors to spend their in class lecture time in exploring PBL. This will promote the skills like critical thinking, problem solving, and make the class more engaging.

Learning Centered Classroom

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The understanding of human learning can be helpful in developing educational system. Knowledge is not remembering and repeating information but the ability to find and use it. Learning is the connection between response and stimulus. Motivation can be internal such as drive for hungers and external like rewards and punishment. People come to formal education with prior knowledge skills, belief, and concept that influence how they see the environments, organize, and interpret it. Teachers need to pay attention to prior knowledge, misbelief, and incomplete understanding. They need to build on these ideas for mature understanding. People need to recognize when they understand and when they need more information. A classroom environment need to be learner centered, knowledge centered, assessment centered, and community centered.

The MUSIC model of motivation

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Course design is a key factor to motivate or engage students. There are many different types of motivation theories available. Music model of motivation is impressive. This model is derived from social-cognitive theoretical framework. MUSIC is the acronym for empowerment, usefulness, success, interest, and caring. Five components of motivation can be applied all together or separately according to the need. However, it is not a checklist type process. It is important to understand the theories of each component to apply them correctly. Motivated students engage them in activities that yield learning and achieving academic goals. Empowering students is a way to create belief in each students that they are valuable in the class. It generates collaborative learning environment in the class. Students can be empowered even by taking their opinions in setting up the class rules. Usefulness can be achieved by describing the reason for learning. Students learn better if they see the importance of the contents, applicability, and future perspectives. The learning can be more engaging by having the opportunities to solve real world problems. Success refers to acquire skills and knowledge by putting effort into learning a course. Instructors need to design a course in a way that is neither overwhelming nor too easy. It must be challenging such that it takes effort to succeed. Instruction of every assignment needs to be explicitly directive, and complex problems should be divided into small segments. Instructors have the ability to influence students’ interest. They can engender passion for the contents so that the students willfully participate in learning. They can try various presentation styles, and serve as a role model to the students to foster interest in learning. Caring shows instructors’ interest in students’ learning. Care can be provided to a group of students or individual student inside or outside the classroom. Extension of deadline for assignments, resubmission of assignments for correction, and knowing each other personally are the reflections of caring that promote students’ learning. In conclusion, it is an instructor’s choice what and how to apply the motivation techniques in order to achieve best outcomes from the students.