Pedagogy Syllabus Y2

IGERT MNM (Magnetic and Nanostructured Materials )

A collaboration between Norfolk State University, Cornell University, Purdue University

Best Practices in Teaching and Learning

Group: Tasha Zephirin, Chanel Smith, Kavitha Ramane

Advising Professor: Dr. Monica Cox


The main objective of this module is to help the IGERT trainees and associate trainees develop pedagogical expertise so they can integrate pedagogy within their disciplinary areas. As a Trainee, you will:


  • Develop pedagogical expertise through an introduction to theoretically-based teaching methods and strategies that can be incorporated into your future teaching or collaborative opportunities.
  • Identify ways that your personal research can be transferred to other educational contexts
  • Explore the impacts of teaching and curricular innovations on “student” (i.e. K-12, collegiate, working professional, research group member, etc.) learning.



Upon completion of this module, trainees will be able to:

Knowledge & Transfer

  • Describe differences between expert and novice learners
  • Identify factors that influence knowledge transfer
  • Describe how knowledge on how the mind and brain works can be leveraged in educational contexts

How People Learn (HPL) Framework

  • Explain the four dimensions of the “How People Learn” (HPL) framework.
  • Operationalize HPL elements in STEM learning environments.
  • Identify challenges implementing HPL elements in STEM learning environments.


  • Describe the importance of assessment in engineering education
  • Differentiate between types of assessment (e.g. formative and summative)
  • Write learning objectives & link learning objectives to appropriate assessments

Backwards Design

  • Explain the Backward Design process
  • Apply Backward Design as a framework for designing a curriculum
  • Link appropriate assessments to curricular priorities in the Backward Design framework
  • Design a nanotechnology-based lesson plan using the Backward Design template


Pedagogies of Engagement

  • Describe key characteristics of cooperative and problem-based learning pedagogies
  • Identify cooperative and problem-based learning strategies for classroom instruction



  • Translate knowledge, skills & insights from technical research to formal and informal learning environments
  • Tailor communication of technical content to selected audiences


By the end of the 8 weeks trainees will have developed a final deliverable. The deliverable should reflect the pedagogical content knowledge and curricular knowledge trainees have gained from the previous weeks of the module. It is recommended that trainees decide on (1) an aspect of their technical research they would like to communicate and (2) what audience they would like to target (K-12, undergraduate, graduate, working professionals etc.) by Week 2 so homework activities will align with the final deliverable.


Each week, trainees will be expected to complete a weekly homework assignment and a short reflection on the current week’s readings.

(1)  Weekly reflections based on the readings will be emailed/posted to the googlegroup by noon the day before the next meeting. There are no specific requirements for the length or content of the reflection.

-       Possible Prompts: What general thoughts came to mind when reading the material? What did you find challenging? Did you have an “ah-ha” moment? Did the material provide insight into your personal experiences? etc.

(2)  Weekly homework assignments are described in the table below. All homework assignments will be double-spaced, Times New Roman, Font size 12, in a Microsoft Word document and placed in the Dropbox folder by the following meeting unless otherwise noted.

For access to the googlegroup, go to the following link and request to be added to the group: Addition to the group requires instructor approval.

Feedback on homework assignments will be given within one week of homework submission.

Week #


Homework Activity





Prepare summary and discussion pts on assigned chapters for next week’s readings to share with the group and lead discussion




Learners & Learning

(How People Learn Intro)


Based on this week’s readings and discussions, write a 1-page minimum reflection on an aspect that resonates most with you


Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (Eds.). (2000). How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. National Academy Press. Chapters 2, 3, 5



How People Learn framework – Design of Learning Environments


Guided by elements of the HPL framework, consider how you would present an aspect of your technical research to an unfamiliar audience of your choice (e.g.  Graduate student in another discipline, father, teenager etc.). Then (1) deliver this information and (2) write a 1 page minimum reflection about this experience.



Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (Eds.). (2000). How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. National Academy Press. Chapters 1, 6



Assessment / Backwards Design

(1) Create 2 learning objectives and at least 2 respective assessment techniques

(2) Design a lesson plan using the backwards  design template to teach an aspect of your research topic or nanotechnology to an audience of your choice


Wiggins, G., & McTighe. (1998). Understanding by Design. Upper Saddle, NJ: Prentice Hall. Chapter 1


New Revision: Online book: Understanding By Design (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005)





Pedagogies of Engagement



Using your Backwards Design lesson plan, apply a framework or classroom technique that would help your target audience best engage with the material (for e.g. STAR. Legacy Cycle). Submit revised plan highlighting the framework used and brief reasoning behind your choice.




Smith, K. A., Sheppard, S. D., Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (2005). Pedagogies of engagement: Classroom-based practices. Journal of Engineering Education, 94(1), 87–101. doi:10.1002/bmb.20204






Reflecting on this week’s discussion and your Week 3 assignment, outline strategies you could use to best communicate your lesson plan topic to two audiences of your choice.



Week 7 - 8

Curriculum Development


Design a deliverable (e.g. classroom lesson, workshop, science fair activity, tech talk etc.) in which you communicate an aspect of your technical research or nanotechnology to an audience of your choice. Provide an outline of your project, including a one page summary highlighting the alignment of content, assessment and communication plan.





At the beginning of each workshop there will be:

-       General homework review

-       Short, open discussion on challenges faced completing current assignment & questions regarding previous week’s material

Breakdown for weekly deliverables:

Week 1

-       Main pts summarized and well-communicated e.g. handout, ppt slide, verbalized

-       Prepared to lead the discussion i.e. familiar with assigned section, identified initial discussion questions to get the conversation started, etc.

Week 2

-       Identifies at least 1 piece of information from Chapt 2, 3 or 5 and describes how it relates to personal experience, other information previously known, etc.

-       Clarity & thoughtfulness of reflection

Week 3

-       Brief description of aspect of research to be presented

-       Clearly identified tactics used to present aspects of technical research to selected audience and how these reflect some aspect of the HPL framework (C, L, A, K)

-       Brief description of audience and presenter reactions e.g. was the concept understood by the audience? Was the audience excited or indifferent? How did it feel to present the information? Did you change communication tactics during the explanation from what you initially planned? Etc

-       Clarity & thoughtfulness of reflection

Week 4

-       Two learning objectives stated using “behaviour, degree & verb”

-       Assessment strategies identified are aligned with identified learning objectives

-       Provided Backwards Design Template completed

Week 5

-       Chosen framework/classroom technique aligns well with content and target audience

-       Reasoning behind choice clearly stated

Week 6

-       Brief description of topic being presented

-       Audiences clearly identified

-       Well-described, specific strategies for each audience

Week 7 – 8

-       Outline detailed enough that someone unfamiliar with your deliverable (but with equivalent technical knowledge) could implement your design using only your outline

-       One page summary clearly states learning objectives, content to be covered, appropriate assessments and communication strategies. Alignment between these factors is evident

-       References for articles, frameworks, learning theories that guided your design

Supplemental Resources and Materials:

The following articles are not required readings but are related in different ways to certain weekly topics and may be of interest.

Week 2

Borrego, M. (2007). Conceptual difficulties experienced by trained engineers learning educational research methods. Journal of Engineering Education, 79(6), 735. doi:10.1021/ed079p735

Chi, M. (2005). Commonsense conceptions of emergent processes: Why some misconceptions are robust. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 14(2), 161-199. doi:10.1207/s15327809jls1402

Felder, R. (1988). Learning and teaching styles in engineering education. Engineering Education, 78(June), 674-681.

Felder, R. (2005). Understanding student differences. Journal of Engineering Education, 94(1), 57-72.

Perkins, D. (2009). Making Learning Whole: How Seven Principles of Teaching can Transform Education. Jossey-Bass.

Streveler, R. A., Litzinger, T. A., Miller, R. L., & Steif, P. S. (2008). Learning conceptual knowledge in the engineering sciences: Overview and future research directions. Journal of Engineering Education, 97(3), 279–294.

Week 5

Klein, S.S., and A.H. Harris. (2007). A user’s guide for the Legacy Cycle.

Journal of Education and Human Development 1 (1): 1–16

Challenge-Based Instruction - The VaNTH Biomechanics Learning Modules

Stump, G. S., Hilpert, J. C., Husman, J., Chung, W.-T., & Kim, W. (2011). Collaborative Learning in Engineering Students: Gender and Achievement. Journal of Engineering Education, 100(3), 475–497. Retrieved from

Articles related to IGERT context

Golde, C. M. (1999). The Challenges of Conducting Interdisciplinary Research in Traditional Doctoral Programs. Ecosystems, 2(4), 281-285. doi:10.1007/s100219900076

Stephens, R., & Richey, M. (2011). Accelerating STEM Capacity : A Complex Adaptive System Perspective. Journal of Engineering Education, 100(3), 417-423.

Newstetter, W. C. (2011). UNPACKING THE INTERDISCIPLINARY MIND : Implications for teaching and learning. American Society for Engineering Education (pp. AC 2011-2614).


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