Colleen Bringman, Lecturer, Biomedical Engineering
Colleen Bringman, Lecturer, Biomedical Engineering

This series highlights an array of teaching strategies implemented by faculty members at the University of Iowa. Each strategy aims to enhance students’ engagement and broaden the scope of their learning.


This month’s strategies are provided by Lecturer of Biomedical Engineering Colleen Bringman.


Engaging and productive classroom setting. It is crucial to create intellectual excitement within the classroom and to develop rapport with students. If students are not engaged or are not inspired by the professor’s excitement, it can be difficult for them to learn and retain the material.


Projects based on “real world” problems. I feel that true learning occurs when students are able to take knowledge gained from one situation and apply it to a novel task. The role of the instructor is to provide students with the proper tools and level of proficiency necessary to transfer knowledge learned in the classroom to new situations. I provide students with real-world problems and scenarios within the field of biomedical engineering to assess their understanding of techniques and theories. Students are given opportunities to solve current problems within the medical device industry and healthcare settings with the confidence that they can use these skills as they begin careers in the clinic, laboratory, and industry.


Clear expectations. Success in the classroom or any setting is next to impossible without measurable outcomes and definitive goals. I strive to provide context for course deliverables, explain evaluation criteria, and set advanced due dates. This transparency allows students to focus on the course content and motivates them to achieve mastery.


Prompt feedback. To prevent monotonous lectures, I integrate demonstrations, in-class activities, and quizzes. These provide opportunities for students to get prompt feedback about their performance and correct any errors. Frequent and consistent feedback throughout the course allows students and instructors to notice any deficiencies early so corrective measures can be taken.


Iterative engineering design opportunities. Ultimately, the goal of my teaching is to train students to think critically and independently. Students should be able to self-assess their answers to determine whether they have reached an optimal solution or they need to try a different method. Since there are many possible solutions to typical engineering problems, self-assessment is a vital skill.