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Random Thoughts Columns

Dr. Terri Varnado works with College of Education students in one of her robotics classes. NCSU/Photo by Becky Kirkland."

The papers listed in the accordion sections below are from Dr. Richard Felder’s columns in the quarterly journal, Chemical Engineering Education. Some of them were co-authored by Dr. Rebecca Brent. The papers can be downloaded as PDF files.

  1. R.M. Felder, “Impostors Everywhere.Chem. Engr. Education, 22(4), 168-169 (Fall 1988). The Impostor Phenomenon as applied to engineering students.
  2. R.M. Felder, “Nobody Asked Me, But…Chem. Engr. Education, 23(1), 26-27 (Winter 1989). Miscellaneous observations.
  3. R.M. Felder, “Meet Your Students: 1. Stan and Nathan.Chem. Engr. Education, 23(2), 68-69 (Spring 1989). The sensor and the intuitor on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Felder/Silverman Learning Styles Model.
  4. R.M. Felder, “The View Through the Doors.Chem. Engr. Education, 23(3), 166-167 (Summer 1989). Humorous column satirizing bad teaching.
  5. R.M. Felder, “Good Cop/Bad Cop: Embracing Contraries in Teaching.Chem. Engr. Education, 23(4), 207 (Fall 1989). Review of Embracing Contraries, by Peter Elbow.
  1. R.M. Felder, “Meet Your Students: 2. Susan and Glenda.Chem. Engr. Education, 24(1), 7-8 (Winter 1990). The sequential learner and the global learner on the Felder/Silverman learning styles model.
  2. R.M. Felder, “No Respect!Chem. Engr. Education, 24(2), 71 (Spring 1990). Humorous column.
  3. R.M. Felder, “Meet Your Students: 3. Michelle, Rob, and Art.Chem. Engr. Education, 24(3), 130-131 (Summer 1990). Three different approaches to learning (deep, surface, and strategic), and the conditions that induce students to take a deep approach.
  4. R.M. Felder, “Engineering Education Verses.Chem. Engr. Education, 25(1), 22-23 (Winter 1991). Four poems about different aspects of engineering education.
  5. R.M. Felder, “We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident.Chem. Engr. Education, 25(2), 80-81 (Spring 1991). Several common but unproven myths about teaching.
  6. R.M. Felder, “It Goes Without Saying.Chem. Engr. Education, 25(3), 132-133 (Summer 1991). An illustrative lesson utilizing active learning. (See also Refs. 13 and 58.)
  7. R.M. Felder, “Meet Your Students: 4. Jill and Perry.Chem. Engr. Education, 25(4), 196-197 (Fall 1991). The judger and the perceiver on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
  8. R.M. Felder, “How About a Quick One?Chem. Engr. Education, 26(1), 18-19 (Winter 1992). Formats for small-group in-class exercises and the one-minute paper. (See also Refs. 11 and 58.)
  9. R.M. Felder, “There’s Nothing Wrong With the Raw Material.Chem. Engr. Education, 26(2), 76-77 (Spring 1992). Comments on the qualifications of precollege students.
  10. R.M. Felder, “What Do They Know Anyway?Chem. Engr. Education, 26(3), 134-135 (Summer 1992). Common misconceptions about student evaluations of teaching and the research results that disprove them. (See also Refs. 17, 30, and 32.)
  11. R.M. Felder, “Sorry, Pal–It Doesn’t Work That Way.Chem. Engr. Education, 26(4), 175 (Fall 1992). Humorous but not completely fictional column about events in the life of an engineering professor.
  12. R.M. Felder, “What Do They Know Anyway? 2. Making Evaluations Effective.Chem. Engr. Education, 27(1), 28-29 (Winter 1993). Ways to get the most benefit from student evaluations of teaching. (See also Refs. 15, 30, and 32.)
  13. R.M. Felder, “Speaking of Education.Chem. Engr. Education, 27(2), 128-129 (Spring 1993). Collection of quotes about educational matters.
  14. R.M. Felder, “Teaching Teachers to Teach: The Case for Mentoring.Chem. Engr. Education, 27(3), 176-177 (Summer 1993). A model for helping new professors learn the craft of teaching.
  15. R.M. Felder, “What Matters in College.Chem. Engr. Education, 27(4), 194-195 (Fall 1993). Review of What Matters in College, by Alexander Astin, perhaps the most extensive research study ever carried out of factors affecting student success in college.
  16. R.M. Felder, “Meet Your Students: 5. Edward and Irving.Chem. Engr. Education, 28(1), 36-37 (Winter 1994). The extravert and the introvert on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
  17. R.M. Felder, “Things I Wish They Had Told Me.Chem. Engr. Education, 28(2), 108-109 (Spring 1994). Tips for new professors.
  18. R.M. Felder, “Any Questions?Chem. Engr. Education, 28(3), 174-175 (Summer 1994). Different types of questions that can be effectively asked in class.
  19. R.M. Felder, “We Never Said It Would Be Easy.Chem. Engr. Education, 29(1), 32-33 (Winter 1995). Problems commonly encountered when implementing active and cooperative learning methods and ways to overcome them.
  20. R.M. Felder, “Just Another Day at the Office.Chem. Engr. Education, 29(2), 102-103 (Spring 1995). Humorous column.
  21. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “Getting Started.Chem. Engr. Education, 29(3), 166-167 (Summer 1995). Approaches to getting a course off to a good start.
  22. R.M. Felder, “Meet Your Students: 6. Tony and Frank.Chem. Engr. Education, 29(4), 244-245 (Fall 1995). The thinker and the feeler on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
  23. R.M. Felder, “The Warm Winds of Change.Chem. Engr. Education, 30(1), 34-35 (Winter 1996). Indications that the climate for teaching at universities may be improving.
  24. R.M. Felder, “Speaking of Everything.Chem. Engr. Education, 30(2), 130-131 (Spring 1996). Collection of miscellaneous quotes.
  25. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “If You’ve Got It, Flaunt It: Uses and Abuses of Teaching Portfolios.Chem. Engr. Education, 30(3), 188-189 (Summer 1996). Functions of teaching portfolios, tips for designing and evaluating them, and recommendations for implementing campus-wide portfolio programs (material drawn primarily from the work of Peter Seldin). (See also Refs. 15, 17, and 32.)
  26. R.M. Felder, “…And If You Believe That, I’ve Got a Bridge to Sell You.Chem. Engr. Education, 30(4), 278 (Fall 1996). A (possibly) humorous recounting of some (probably) familiar campus pronouncements.
  27. R. Brent and R.M. Felder, “It Takes One to Know One.Chem. Engr. Education, 31(1), 32-33 (Winter 1997). Strategies and tips for peer review of teaching. (See also Refs. 15, 17, and 30.)
  28. R.M. Felder, “Meet Your Students: 7. Dave, Martha, and Roberto.Chem. Engr. Education, 31(2), 106-107 (Spring 1997). Three students at different levels of Perry’s Model of Intellectual Development.
  29. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “Objectively Speaking.Chem. Engr. Education, 31(3), 178-179 (Summer 1997). How to write instructional objectives for a course and why they make everything you do thereafter (e.g. planning syllabi and class sessions, making up assignments and exams, and reviewing departmental curricula) easier and more effective.
  30. R.M. Felder, “Ships Passing in the Night.Chem. Engr. Education, 32(1), 46-47 (Winter 1998). Those classroom conversations may not always be about the lecture content.
  31. R.M. Felder, “ABET Criteria 2000: An Exercise in Engineering Problem Solving.Chem. Engr. Education, 32(2), 126-127 (Spring 1998). Reflections on Engineering Criteria 2000, the accreditation standard for engineering departments starting in 2001.
  32. R. Brent and R.M. Felder, “The New Faculty Member.Chem. Engr. Education, 32(3), 206-207 (Summer 1998). Summary of Robert Boice’s book of the same name. Tips to help new faculty members make rapid progress up the academic ladder to tenure and promotion.
  33. R.M. Felder, “The Night Somebody Slipped the Truth Serum in the Punch Bowl at the Department Head’s Christmas Party.Chem. Engr. Education, 32(4), 278-279 (Fall 1998). A column with humorous intent (sort of).
  34. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “FAQs.Chem. Engr. Education, 33(1), 32-33 (Winter 1999). The ten most frequently asked questions at teaching workshops, and an answer to the first one: (1) “What evidence is there that these alternative teaching methods actually work?”
  35. R.M. Felder, “Memo to Students Who are Disappointed with Their Last Test Grade.Chem. Engr. Education, 33(2), 136-137 (Spring 1999). Suggestions for improving test performance.
  36. R.M. Felder, “Speaking of Education-II.Chem. Engr. Education, 33(3), 196-197 (Summer 1999). Collection of education-related quotes.
  37. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “FAQs-2.Chem. Engr. Education, 33(4), 276-277 (Fall 1999). More frequently asked questions. (2) Can I use active learning exercises in my classes and still cover the syllabus? (3) Do active learning methods work in large classes?
  1. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “All in a Day’s Work.Chem. Engr. Education, 34(1), 66-67 (Winter 2000). Tips on dealing with troublesome classroom situations (students arriving late, talking, sleeping, etc.).
  2. R.M. Felder, “The Scholarship of Teaching.Chem. Engr. Education, 34(2),144 (Spring 2000). What is the scholarship of teaching, and how might it be assessed and rewarded?
  3. R.M. Felder, “The Alumni Speak.Chem. Engr. Education, 34(3),238-239 (Summer 2000). Chemical engineering alumni talk about what they liked and didn’t like about their education and offer advice to beginning students.
  4. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “Is Technology a Friend or Foe of Learning?Chem. Engr. Education, 34(4), 326-327 (Fall 2000). The question is, will the flexibility of the World-Wide-Web and the convenience of distance education make conventional universities obsolete? The answer is, it depends on what the conventional universities do.
  5. R.M. Felder, “Truth in Advertising.Chem. Engr. Education, 35(1), 25 (Winter 2001). A facetious proposal for taking the ambiguity out of award nominations and applications for faculty employment.
  6. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “FAQs-3. Groupwork in Distance Learning.Chem. Engr. Education, 35(2), 102-103 (Spring 2001).
  7. R.M. Felder, “A Brief History of Elementary Principles of Chemical Processes.Chem. Engr. Education, 35(3), 180-181 (Summer 2001). How the text originated, how long it took to write, who wrote which parts, and why anyone in his or her right mind would write an undergraduate textbook with the faculty reward system being what it is.
  8. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “FAQs-4. Dealing with Student Background Deficiencies and Low Student Motivation.Chem. Engr. Education, 35(4), 266-267 (Fall 2001). Suggestions for moving from complaining about our students to addressing the problems we often have with them.
  9. R.M. Felder, “So You Want to Win a CAREER Award.Chem. Engr. Education, 36(1), 32-33 (Winter 2002). Suggestions for preparing a proposal to the NSF Early Faculty Development (CAREER) Program.
  10. R.M. Felder, “The Effective, Efficient Professor.Chem. Engr. Education, 36(2), 114-115 (Spring 2002). Review of a 2002 book on effective teaching by Phillip C. Wankat.
  11. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “FAQs-5. Designing Fair Tests.Chem. Engr. Education, 36(3), 204-205 (Summer 2002). Tips on effective testing practices for classes that emphasize quantitative problem-solving. This column is an abridgment of “Designing Tests to Maximize Learning.J. Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice, 128(1), 1-3 (2002).
  12. R.M. Felder, “Speaking of Education-III.Chem. Engr. Education, 36(4), 282-283 (Fall 2002). Collection of education-related quotes.
  13. R.M. Felder, “How to Survive Engineering School.Chem. Engr. Education, 37(1), 30-31 (Winter 2003). Success strategies for engineering students (and all other students).
  14. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “FAQs-6. Evaluating Teaching and Converting the Masses.Chem. Engr. Education, 37(2), 106-107(Spring 2003). Responses to the final two frequently asked questions: “Is there a meaningful way to evaluate teaching?” and “How can staunchly traditional professors be persuaded to use proven but non-traditional teaching methods?”
  15. R.M. Felder, “The Incontrovertible Logic of the Academy.Chem. Engr. Education, 37(3), 220-221(Summer 2003). An attempt to make sense of academic fund-raising practices.
  16. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “Learning by Doing.Chem. Engr. Education, 37(4), 282­-283 (Fall 2003). The philosophy and strategies of active learning. (See also Refs. 11 and 13.)
  17. R.M. Felder, “Changing Times and Paradigms.Chem. Engr. Education, 38(1), 32­-33 (Winter 2004). Driving forces for reform in engineering education and recent signs that they may be working.
  18. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “How to Evaluate Teaching.Chem. Engr. Education, 38(3), 200-202 (Summer 2004). Obtaining a comprehensive evaluation of the quality of a faculty member’s teaching.
  19. R.M. Felder, “An Educator for All Seasons.Chem. Engr. Education, 38(4), 280-281 (Fall 2004). A glimpse at some of the thinking of John Dewey, who would no doubt be dismayed to learn that the educational problems he wrote about as long ago as 1899 are if anything worse today, but gratified to know that his proposed solutions have been repeatedly tested and validated.
  20. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “Death by PowerPoint.Chem. Engr. Education, 39(1), 28-29 (Winter 2005). How and how not to use presentation graphics in a class.
  21. R.M. Felder, “Speaking of Everything – II.Chem. Engr. Education, 39(2), 93 (Spring 2005). Collection of miscellaneous quotes.
  22. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “Screens Down, Everyone: Effective Uses of Portable Computers in Lecture Classes.Chem. Engr. Education, 39(3), 200-201 (Summer 2005). Tips on using portables in class to work through tutorials, develop skills in software applications, and carrying out web-based research.
  23. R.M. Felder, “A Fond Farewell.Chem. Engr. Education, 39(4), 279 (Fall 2005). An appreciation of Carole Yocum, the long-time managing editor of Chemical Engineering Education, who retired in the Summer of 2005.
  24. R.M. Felder, “The Way to Bet.Chem. Engr. Education, 40(1), 38-39 (Winter 2006). A collection of assertions about teaching and learning that may not be certain but are highly probable.
  25. R.M. Felder, “A Whole New Mind for a Flat World.Chem. Engr. Education, 40(2), 96-97 (Spring 2006). To get and keep jobs in a world of growing globalization, outsourcing of skilled jobs, and offshoring of entire manufacturing operations, engineering graduates in developed countries will need knowledge and skills that are not addressed in today’s engineering curriculum.
  26. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “How to Teach (Almost) Anybody (Almost) Anything.Chem. Engr. Education, 40(3), 173-174 (Summer 2006). A four-step technique to equip students with almost any desired skill.
  27. R.M. Felder, “What’s in a Name?Chem. Engr. Education, 40(4), 281-282 (Fall 2006). A whimsical look at academic department name inflation.
  28. R. Brent and R.M. Felder, “Turning New Faculty Members into Quick Starters.Chem. Engr. Education, 41(1), 51-52 (Winter 2007). What colleges and departments can do to help their new faculty members become productive researchers and effective teachers in their first 1-2 years.
  29. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “How to Prepare New Courses While Keeping Your Sanity.Chem. Engr. Education, 41(2), 121-122 (Spring 2007). Tips on how to handle new preps and still have time to have a life (sort of).
  30. R.M. Felder, “Sermons for Grumpy Campers.Chem. Engr. Education, 41(3), 183-184 (Summer 2007). Short speeches to persuade students that active and cooperative learning are not violations of their civil rights, but instructional methods likely to improve their learning and grades and prepare them for their future careers.
  31. R.M. Felder, “Why Me, Lord?Chem. Engr. Education, 41(4), 239-240 (Fall 2007). How to deal with a student in crisis if you’re not a trained counselor.
  32. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “Student Ratings of Teaching: Myths, Facts, and Good Practices.Chem. Engr. Education, 42(1), 33-34 (Winter 2008). Common beliefs about the validity and value of student ratings, what the research says about those beliefs, and how to make ratings as useful as possible.
  33. R.M. Felder, “ On-The-Job Training.Chem. Engr. Education, 42(2), 96-97 (Spring 2008). What we’re teaching them may not exactly be what they need to know.
  34. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “How to Write Anything.Chem. Engr. Education, 42(3), 139-140 (Summer 2008). Weeks or months or years have gone by, and you still haven’t managed to complete a first draft of that big proposal, paper, dissertation, or book. Here’s what you’re probably doing wrong and what to do instead.
  35. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “The Top Ten Worst Teaching Mistakes. I. Mistakes 5-10.Chem. Engr. Education, 42(4), 201-202 (Fall 2008). Your teachers made them and your colleagues make them. What about you?
  36. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “The Top Ten Worst Teaching Mistakes. II. Mistakes 1-4.Chem. Engr. Education, 43(1), 15-16 (Winter 2009). Your teachers made them and your colleagues make them. What about you?
  37. R.M. Felder, “Does Your Department Culture Suit You?Chem. Engr. Education, 43(2), 113-114 (Spring 2009). A questionnaire to rate academic departments on a Competitive vs. Collegial scale.
  38. R.M. Felder, “Priorities in Hard Times.Chem. Engr. Education, 43(3), 241-242 (Summer 2009). A satirical (but not entirely unrealistic) look at how university administrations function in budget crises.
  39. R.M. Felder, “A Teacher’s Teacher.Chem. Engr. Education, 43(4), 313-314 (Fall 2009). A celebration of Professor Jim Stice, a legend in engineering education.
  1. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “Hard Assessment of Soft Skills.Chem. Engr. Education, 44(1), 63-64 (Winter 2010). Using checklists and rubrics both to assess soft (professional) skills and to help students develop those skills.
  2. R.M. Felder, “The Link between Teaching and Research. 1. Does It Exist?Chem. Engr. Education, 44(2), 109-110 (Spring 2010). Summary of a recent survey of the literature on the relationship between faculty research activity and teaching effectiveness.
  3. R.M. Felder, “The Link between Teaching and Research. 2. How to Strengthen Each without Weakening the Other.Chem. Engr. Education, 44(3), 213-214 (Summer 2010). Second part of a summary of a recent survey of the literature on the relationship between faculty research activity and teaching effectiveness.
  4. R.M. Felder, “How to Stop Cheating (or at Least Slow It Down).Chem. Engr. Education, 45(1), 37-38 (Winter 2011). Statistics on the incidence of cheating in college and proven ideas for preventing it and catching it when it occurs.
  5. R.M. Felder, “Hang in There: Dealing with Student Resistance to Learner-Centered Teaching.Chem. Engr. Education, 45(2), 131-132 (Spring 2011). If you tried active or cooperative or problem-based learning and got pushback and lower ratings from the students and feel discouraged, here are some things to think about.
  6. R.M. Felder, “Speaking of Education-IV.Chem. Engr. Education, 45(3), 191 (Summer 2011). Collection of quotes about education.
  7. R. Brent and R.M. Felder, “How Learning Works.Chem. Engr. Education, 45(4), 257-258 (Fall 2011). Highlights from Ambrose et al. (2010). How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching, an excellent survey of pedagogical implications of modern cognitive science.
  8. R. Brent and R.M. Felder, “Learning by Solving Solved Problems.Chem. Engr. Education, 46(1), 29-30 (Winter 2012). The technique of having students work through solved problems, explaining each step as they go, and the research that supports its effectiveness.
  9. R. Brent and R.M. Felder, “Just-in-Time vs. Just-in-Case: Orientation for New Faculty in STEM Disciplines.” Chem. Engr. Education, 46(2), 87-88 (Spring 2012). A workshop to help new faculty members in engineering and the sciences get their research and teaching careers off to a good start.
  10. R.M. Felder, “Problems with Faces.Chem. Engr. Education, 46(3), 171-172 (Summer 2012). A whimsical look at headaches typically faced by department heads and a tribute to the men and women who manage to deal with them day after day.
  11. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “Why Johnny and Janie Can’t (or Won’t) Read.Chem. Engr. Education, 46(4), 237-238 (Fall 2012). Why pre-class reading assignments are usually ineffective and how to improve them.
  12. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “You Got Questions, We Got Answers. 1. Miscellaneous Issues.Chem. Engr. Education, 47(1), 25-26 (Winter 2013). Keeping course preparation time reasonable (especially for new preps), what and what not to do with PowerPoint, making course content relevant.
  13. R.M. Felder, “You Got Questions, We Got Answers. 2. Active Learning.Chem. Engr. Education, 47(2), 97-98 (Spring 2013). Why do it? How do we know it works? How much should you do in a class session? Can I use it for long problem solutions and derivations? Can I use it online?
  14. R.M. Felder, “Speaking of Everything — III.Chem. Engr. Education, 47(3), 178 (Summer 2013). Collection of miscellaneous quotes.
  15. R.M. Felder, “The Curmudgeon’s Corner.Chem. Engr. Education, 47(4), 207-208 (Fall 2013). Collection of miscellaneous gripes.
  16. R.M. Felder and J. Stice, “Tips on Test Taking.Chem. Engr. Education, 48(1), 57-58 (Winter 2014). Things students should and should not do when preparing for tests and taking them.
  17. R. Brent and R.M. Felder, “Want Your Students to Think Creatively and Critically? How about Teaching Them?Chem. Engr. Education, 48(2), 113-114 (Spring 2014). Suggestions for how to do it.
  18. R.M. Felder, “Why Are You Teaching That?Chem. Engr. Education, 48(3), 131-132 (Summer 2014). Ideas for course content that could be dropped and no one (except maybe the professor who loves it) would miss it.
  19. R.M. Felder, “The Murky Crystal Ball.Chem. Engr. Education, 48(4), 207-208 (Fall 2014). Predictions about engineering education in 10 years. (Spoiler alert: MOOCs will still be here.)
  20. R. Brent and R.M. Felder, “Try This on for Size.Chem. Engr. Education, 49(2), 127-128 (Spring 2015). Several easy but effective teaching strategies.
  21. R. Brent and R.M. Felder, “To Flip or Not to Flip.Chem. Engr. Education, 49(3), 191-192 (Summer 2015). Good and not-so-good ways to flip a classroom, introducing new material online and then processing it actively in class.
  22. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “Handouts with Gaps.Chem. Engr. Education, 49(4), 239-240 (Fall 2015). A research-validated technique for incorporating activities in a class, getting all the benefits of active learning, and not sacrificing content coverage (maybe even increasing it).
  23. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “Happy Anniversary, CEE.Chem. Engr. Education, 50(1), 38­-39 (Winter 2016). A highly selective review of the 50-year history of Chemical Engineering Education.
  24. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “Why Students Fail Tests: 1. Ineffective Studying.Chem. Engr. Education, 50(2), 151­-152 (Spring 2016). A cognitive science-based take on ineffective and effective study strategies.
  25. R.M. Felder and R. Brent, “Why Students Fail Tests: 2. Ineffective Teaching.Chem. Engr. Education, 50(3), 211­-212 (Summer 2016). A cognitive science-based take on teaching practices that have negative effects on students’ learning, and suggestions of better alternatives to those practices.
  26. R. Brent and R.M. Felder, “New Faculty Members May Not Know How to Teach, but At Least They Know How to Do Research…Right?Chem. Engr. Education, 50(4), 251­-252 (Fall 2016). The answer is, don’t count on it.
  27. R.M. Felder, “As the Walrus Said.Chem. Engr. Education, 51(1), 19-20 (Winter 2017). Richard Felder’s farewell in his final Random Thoughts column.