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VITAL Minigrant to Support Improvements to “Teaching Engineering” Program

Dr. Aaron Wemhoff

In spring 2013, Villanova’s College of Engineering introduced EGR 9200 Teaching Engineering in Higher Education, a course that in combination with EGR 9220, a Teaching Engineering Practicum, provides College of Engineering PhD students with an opportunity to learn about engineering pedagogy and to apply it in an actual Villanova classroom. The students who complete the two courses earn a Teaching Engineering in Higher Education Certificate along with their doctoral degree. This spring, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Dr. Aaron Wemhoff was awarded a VITAL (Villanova Institute for Teaching and Learning) Minigrant from the University to restructure this course with the goals of increasing student engagement and creating a mechanism for College faculty to improve their own teaching.

“These additional benefits are accomplished by flipping the course,” explains Dr. Wemhoff. Students will learn from watching online learning modules, and in-class sessions will be devoted to active learning exercises. The students will also obtain more practice and feedback in implementing pedagogical techniques into their own lectures and syllabi development, providing a richer learning experience. He adds, “The instructor will learn by participating in activities alongside the students, and the online modules can readily be used to help our existing College faculty improve their own teaching.”

Teaching in Higher Education is part of the College’s unique professional development program for engineering PhD students that was launched in spring 2019. The program reflects the fundamental character of Villanova University, which includes high-quality teaching and close attention to the student, as well as development of the whole person as embodied by Veritas, Unitas, Caritas. In addition to the academic scholar track through which the Teaching Engineering in Higher Education certificate can be earned, students can opt for an industry scholar track with separate requirements.