In this section, Frederick Salvucci discusses one of the main benefits of co-teaching: offering students different points of view and different approaches to urban transportation planning.
For many years, 1.252J Urban Transportation Planning was co-taught by its instructors. Specifically, it used to be taught by Ralph Gakenheimer from the Department of Urban Planning (DUSP), and he invited me to co-teach it with him. Then, when he semi-retired, a post-doc from DUSP co-taught it with me. After that, I co-taught with a junior faculty member from DUSP. Then, Tom Humphrey, who had worked for the Federal Highway Administration and has an extensive background in transportation planning, co-taught with me. More recently, I co-taught with Mikel Murga, a research associate and lecturer at MIT.
One of the purposes of co-teaching the course was to have two people instructing students who saw things differently and often disagreed. This way, students would get different points of view. When there are two instructors with different versions of the truth, there’s no way the students can game the course by saying what we want to hear, because we hear different things. The students have to think about what they personally believe after being exposed to two different points of view on the same subject. That was something really special about the class. I still co-teach one of my other courses, and my co-teacher is a Republican, so we view most things fairly differently. I think that’s a really neat aspect of the course.
Bringing in guest lecturers is also a useful technique for ensuring students aren’t always hearing the same voice, the same approach. But with co-teaching, you’re always there for each other’s presentations, and you have regular opportunities to disagree or critique each other. It creates a dynamic learning environment—more so than periodically including a guest lecturer.