TEACHING PHILOSOPHY                                                                                          Spanish version

Teaching philosophy of Francisco M. González-Longatt

For thousands of years human beings have searched answers to questions of how and why the universe exists and evolve, and also have worked to improve the human condition. In this direction, the problems and attempts to solve them have enhanced the growth of human knowledge. The human being has understood the importance of producing and spreading the knowledge. Since the time of Plato the "Academia" has been a community of students and scholars engaged in higher education and research. At the present, the university became in the modern version of the famous centre of learning Plato’s.

The main difference is formality of producing and distributing knowledge. The modern university contributes to society through the pursuit of education, learning, and research at the highest levels of excellence. The university involves complex processes: learning knowledge, information and skills. Teaching and researching arise as vital activities inside a successful University. One multiples the knowledge and the other produces it.

Teaching is both an art and a science. Good teaching involves intuition, reflection and technique as well as an understanding of cognitive, developmental and social theories of learning. Teaching is an interactive process that also involves motivation, communication, and a shared context of mutual respect.

Good teaching depends upon an informed research base, effective teaching strategies, and the sensibility to interact with the learner within a shared context of mutual understanding. Thus a good teacher understands and applies effectively the pedagogy and how to be a researcher. The research activities and experience provide a real world examples and challenges necessary to illustrate and motivate the seemingly theoretical concepts and methods taught in class.

Fundamentally, teaching in an engineering school should develop the capability to resolve complex problems with creative application of scientific principles. This objective includes teaching how to continue to learn in an ever-changing technological world, and to prepare them to behave as responsible citizens and ethical, professional engineers in today's global society.

At undergraduate level, the ultimate goal is to develop in the student the ability to apply the necessary mathematical tools, basic science, and fundamental knowledge of engineering. The philosophy here is that in this way the students get to learn to identify and apply the necessary tools and concepts (whether engineering, physical or mathematical) to confront the actual problems, information which they will use in their future professional life. In this approach the emphasis is: (1) boosting the understanding of fundamental physical laws and principles and their application, first in abstract contexts, and then in real life experiences; and, (2) translating engineering systems’ word descriptions into solvable mathematical models (3) applying the adequate methods to get plausible and effective engineering solutions and (4) use the results with awareness and respect for society and humanity.

This philosophy is supported in theoretical and practical approach: The formal lecturing time is used to propitiate for students a reflexive environment, where they are invited to appreciate the abstract concepts and methods being taught with the use of relevant real life examples; The activities of laboratory provides a controllable environment that enables applying and testing concepts and theories, that is, a perfect practical experience to solve experiments carefully prepared in order to enhance the theoretical knowledge taught in class. In addition to this, undergraduate teaching is not concerned solely with building up the student analytical skills. But also should encourage the students to enhance their communication skill, curiosity, global view and their creative abilities, with adequate exercises and advices. It must be remembered that the engineer provides solutions to the human being, and they must consider the human being lives in society within a real world. This teaching philosophy is founded on three interdependent concepts: positive teacher-student relationship, democratic learning environment, and feedback.

At postgraduate level extra emphasis is focused on developing the strong theoretical bases needed to conduct effective research. Class related activities: formal lectures, seminars, etc. is a way to increase the knowledge within the field of research and the student participation should be emphasized and encouraged. Self-study of advanced concepts constitutes an important mechanism in the learning process in order to nurture the intellectual independence and judgment of the students. Class projects are key complements to stimulate the awareness of current research needs and to exercise critical thinking skills. For the success of any postgraduate student, partial and total research results, provide a good opportunity to learn and practice, the oral and writing communication skills. It is an excellent way to divulge the knowledge achieved in research.

12nd May of 2009

 

 

 

 

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