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Personal pedagogical ideas about undergraduate and postgraduate teaching

2011-05-26

Remembered that I had some thoughts written down…

I can teach whatever I choose, but unless the students choose to learn, it will be in vain. Hence I believe that the focus be must be upon learning and not teaching. To most, motivation and interest are necessary for learning and with motivated students, pretty much anything is possible. The necessary motivation can be ”created” in several ways. Obviously relevant examination and grading is important, but more so is putting the knowledge in a context, and creating a percieved value in the course contents.

To accomplish the above, new knowledge must be related to knowledge the students already have. An island of knowledge is useless unless there is a bridge to it. If this bridge exists, and the application of the skill is obvious and/or needed, motivation comes so much easier. The capability to put one self in the students shoes and see the world from their perspective makes this very process so much easier.

Even more important than the actual knowledge gained – at least for the last years of the master program – is that the students really learn to learn. I think that we – the teachers and supervisors – have a huge responsibility there. It is we who will create the expectations and act as a good example. It is tempting to take the easy way out, but showing the answer or the solution is seldom the right thing to do. What we need to focus on is to learn the students how to figure out where to start looking for the solution and what information is required to be able to start the problem solving process.

Generally, students at KTH have typically only a very limited knowledge of ethics, morals, philosophy, science history, and the associated responsibility that we as engineers and fellow humans have. Because of this, many student have a hard time understanding and appreciating what technology really means and how it affects society as a whole. We – the engineers –  are part in the creation of the future. The choices we do, the engineering knowledge, designs, applications, and solutions we create will have a major influence on where the world will go. It is my opinion, that there is room in the curriculum to address some of these issues. I believe that would create even better engineers.

We should make sure that the students that get their exams are truly proud to be engineers. If we succeed in doing this, we can be proud to be part of the system that makes that happen.

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