Felder, Richard, "Things I Wish They Had Told Me."
Chem. Engr. Education, 28(2), 108-109 (Spring 1994).


Richard M. Felder
Department of Chemical Engineering
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27695-7905

Most of us on college faculties learn our craft by trial-and-error. We start teaching and doing research, make lots of mistakes, learn from some of them, teach some more and do more research, make more mistakes and learn from them, and gradually more or less figure out what we're doing.

However, while there's something to be said for purely experiential learning, it's not very efficient. Sometimes small changes in the ways we do things can yield large benefits. We may eventually come up with the changes ourselves, but it could help both us and our students immeasurably if someone were to suggest them early in our careers. For whatever they may be worth to you, here are some suggestions I wish someone had given me.

That's enough for starters. If you feel moved to try any of these suggestions, I'd be grateful if you let me know what happens...and if you've been on a faculty for a year or more, I invite you to send me some additional ideas---tips you wish someone had given you when you were starting out. When I get enough of them I'll put them in another column with appropriate attribution.


  1. W.J. McKeachie, Teaching Tips: A Guidebook for the Beginning College Teacher, 8th Edn., Lexington, MA, D.C. Heath & Co., 1986.
  2. P.C. Wankat and F.S. Oreovicz, Teaching Engineering, New York, McGraw-Hill, 1993.

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1. Many other ideas for active learning exercises are given in References 1 and 2. Return to text

2. However, if your department head or dean is the one doing the asking, it's advisable to have a good reason for saying no. Return to text