The Intellectual Development of Science and Engineering Students. Part 2: Teaching to Promote Growth


  • Richard M. Felder,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Chemical Engineering North Carolina State University
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    • Richard M. Felder, Ph.D., is Hoechst Celanese Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering at North Carolina State University. He is co-author of the text Elementary Principles of Chemical Processes (3rd Edn., Wiley, 2000), co-director of the ASEE National Effective Teaching Institute, and a Fellow of the ASEE.

  • Rebecca Brent

    Corresponding author
    1. Education Designs, Inc.
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    • Rebecca Brent, Ed.D., is president of Education Designs, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in university and college faculty development and assessment of pre-college and college teaching. She is co-director of the ASEE National Effective Teaching Institute.

Dept. of Chemical Engineering, N.C. State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7905; e-mail:

Education Designs, Inc., 101 Lochside Drive, Cary, NC, 27511; e-mail:


As college students experience the challenges of their classes and extracurricular activities, they undergo a developmental progression in which they gradually relinquish their belief in the certainty of knowledge and the omniscience of authorities and take increasing responsibility for their own learning. At the highest developmental level normally seen in college students (which few attain before graduation), they display attitudes and thinking patterns resembling those of expert scientists and engineers, including habitually and skillfully gathering and analyzing evidence to support their judgments. This paper proposes an instructional model designed to provide a suitable balance of challenge and support to advance students to that level. The model components are (1) variety and choice of learning tasks; (2) explicit communication and explanation of expectations; (3) modeling, practice, and constructive feedback on high-level tasks; (4) a student-centered instructional environment; and (5) respect for students at all levels of development.