This Course at MIT

This Course at MIT pages provide context for how the course materials published on OCW were used at MIT. They are part of the OCW Educator initiative, which seeks to enhance the value of OCW for educators.

Course Overview

This page focuses on the course 5.95J Teaching College-Level Science and Engineering as it was taught by Dr. Janet Rankin in Fall 2012.

This course is a participatory seminar focused on the knowledge and skills necessary for teaching science and engineering in higher education. This course is designed for graduate students interested in an academic career and anyone else interested in teaching. This course is pass/no record.

A subset of this course is covered in the Graduate Student Teaching Certificate Program.

Course Outcomes

Course Goals for Students

  • Be familiar with the latest research in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) learning in higher education, including research on diversity.
  • Have an understanding of how to apply that research in the students' own teaching.
  • Improve on teaching skills such as constructing intended learning outcomes, lecturing, using active learning techniques, and employing feedback to improve one's own teaching.
  • Have a better appreciation for the skills needed to assess student learning and to address some of the challenges that come with teaching college students.
  • Be able to write a teaching philosophy statement.

Possibilities for Further Study/Careers

Careers in academe that require college-level teaching.

 

Curriculum Information

Prerequisites

None

Requirements Satisfied

None

Offered

Every fall semester

The Classroom

  • A classroom with four long tables spanning the classroom, chairs behind each table, and four sliding chalkboards at the front.

     

    5.95 is taught in a typical classroom with rows of seats and sliding chalk boards.

 

Student Information

About 4-20 students take this course each year.

Enrollment

Fewer than 10 students took this course in Fall 2012. Enrollment varies from 4-20. About 175 students typically enroll annually in associated certificate programs, which cover a subset of the course material and are not for credit.

Breakdown by Year

Virtually all students in this course are graduate students, with some post-docs, visiting faculty, and advanced undergraduates sometimes enrolling.

Breakdown by Major

Students in this course come from a range of departments, including Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Materials Science and Engineering, and others.

Typical Student Background

Students in this course are typically hoping to enter academe and want to learn more about teaching.

Ideal Class Size

The ideal class size for this course is 15-20 students. This is a good number to build a cohort – large enough to enable small group discussions with a variety of perspectives. Grading of weekly written assignments would be more difficult with more students.

 
 

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 4 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:

In Class

2 hours per week
  • Once a week for a two-hour session
  • 13 class sessions total
  • Mandatory attendance

Class activities

  • 10-15 minutes spent answering questions submitted by students at the end of the previous class on index cards called "muddy cards," for what was unclear or "muddy" during the class
  • Introduction of the day’s topics and discussion of readings, sometimes supported by PowerPoint slides
  • Small group activities in groups of 2-5 students
 

Out of Class

2 hours per week
  • Readings every week
  • Short post-class assignments every week
  • Preparation for a microteaching session, during which each student gives a 6–10 minute presentation to the rest of the class
 

Semester Breakdown

WEEK M T W Th F
1 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No session scheduled. Class session. No session scheduled.
2 No session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled. Class session; assignment due. No session scheduled.
3 No session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled. Class session; assignment due. No classes throughout MIT.
4 No session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled. Class session; assignment due. No session scheduled.
5 No session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled. Class session; assignment due. No session scheduled.
6 No classes throughout MIT. No session scheduled. No session scheduled. Class session; assignment due. No session scheduled.
7 No session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled. Class session; assignment due. No session scheduled.
8 No session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled. Class session; assignment due. No session scheduled.
9 No session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled. Class session; assignment due. No session scheduled.
10 No session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled. Class session; assignment due. No session scheduled.
11 No classes throughout MIT. No session scheduled. No session scheduled. Class session; assignment due. No session scheduled.
12 No session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
13 No session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled. Microteaching session. No session scheduled.
14 No session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled. Microteaching session. No session scheduled.
15 No session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
16 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
Displays the color and pattern used on the preceding table to indicate dates when classes are not held at MIT. No classes throughout MIT
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when class sessions are held. Class session
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table which indicates dates when assignments are due. Assignment due
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when no class session is scheduled. No class session scheduled
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when microteaching sessions are held. Microteaching
 

Instructor Insights

Below, Dr. Rankin highlights some aspects of teaching this course.

  • This course benefits greatly from the wide range of disciplinary backgrounds and perspective of the participants. The class typically consists of students who have done their undergraduate work in other countries and at other institutions within the US. Each student views the course content and its application through a unique lens. This variety of perspectives creates a dynamic and intellectually rich learning environment.
  • Because of the small size of the class, we are often able to tailor the content to mesh with particular interests and concerns of the group. The use of discussion fora, wikis, and blogs has facilitated the sharing of information among participants and has added significantly to the course in recent years.
  • The biggest challenge with this course is finding reading material that is appropriate in both amount and level. I have come to accept that I cannot assign all the readings that I would like to, but assume that as mature and committed learners, participants will pick, read, and save articles and resources according to their individual interests.
  • I believe it is important to build in a significant amount of active learning exercises (e.g., pair-share, think-write, etc.) into each class.