Teaching Pedagogy for Building Engineering Management Students in Universities
This study discusses the teaching pedagogy for building engineering management students in university-level.
The teaching philosophy for building engineering management students comprises four interrelated practices, all aimed at helping students: 1) active involvement in class, 2) integration of classroom knowledge with real-world practices, 3) critical and creative problem-solving, and 4) fostering interdisciplinary learning.
1. Active involvement in class. My teaching experience has shown me that the best approach to keeping students fully engaged includes using lively illustrations, encouraging group interaction, and allowing for a flexible workload.
• Lively illustrations: I believe that a successful teacher is also a skillful storyteller. To stimulate students’ interest in learning, I convert complicated conceptions and equations into lively pictures, diagrams and animations via software packages and online resources. Additionally, I have found in-class simulations and games to be useful learning tools.
• Group interaction: From my years of teaching, I have learned that members of a class may come from widely diverse backgrounds in terms of age, culture, and life experience. Hence, my first priority is ensuring that all students can benefit from the class equally. As a case in point, I usually create teams of students from different backgrounds for class projects, and give them equal opportunities to act in different roles, such as problem-solver, note-taker, presenter, and coordinator. This creates an atmosphere in which all students enjoy class time and feel they can contribute meaningfully to our discussions.
• Flexible workload: Students should be encouraged to learn independently as well as in teams with their peers. Since each student has his/her own goals and interests vis-à-vis a particular class, I assign optional reading materials on each academic theme so that students have the opportunity to further explore topics for which they feel a special affinity. I also welcome it when students bring in relevant materials they find using their own initiative. In the future, I plan to maintain a Wikispaces classroom to collect the materials contributed by students. This virtual classroom will be expanded every semester and made available for future students.
2. Integration of classroom knowledge with real-world practices. It is crucial that engineering students are taught how to apply the knowledge they gain in courses to the real world. I use cases drawn from my extensive experience in consulting and professional practice to help students realize that “boring” theories are vital to solving real problems they will face in the future. The critical examination of real engineering projects can facilitate inductive teaching, which can enhance the students’ abstract reasoning, promote their problem-solving skills, and improve their ability to apply principles practically. In addition to incorporating my own hands-on experience, I will invite other experienced engineers and managers to lecture on various topics. In addition to the value of the content, guest lectures provide opportunities for students to expand their networks in the industry.
3. Critical and creative problem-solving. Good engineers and managers know how to use their knowledge critically and solve problems creatively. In my classes, students are welcome to think “outside the box” and, more importantly, are allowed to make mistakes. Errors are inevitable in the process of learning, and are frequently the starting point for innovation. Students should be given the freedom to diversify their solutions to problems, rather than being forced to adopt particular approaches by their instructors. I therefore assign open-ended and creative problems to encourage students to create new approaches as they learn, and reward them for originality even if their methods prove unsuccessful. I will also keep track of those methods, and build a methodology test bed in Wikispaces to inspire future cohorts of students to try more innovative solutions.
4. Fostering interdisciplinary learning. Interdisciplinary is a perspective on knowledge that consciously applies methodologies from more than one discipline to the examination of a central problem; and I believe that the successful resolution of complex issues such as sustainability and resilience of the built environment under climate-change risk can only be achieved by interdisciplinary work. Interdisciplinary learning can lead students to seek knowledge, skills, and perspectives from a variety of disciplines, and thereby gain an expanded and more complex understanding of the topics they are studying. Taking my own research projects as examples, I will discuss the advantages and limitations of the applications of engineering and non-engineering approaches to the enhancement of building sustainability and resilience, as well as how these two different approaches can complement each other.
Keywords - Building Engineering Management, Teaching Pedagogy.