Yassir AbdelRazig, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, received the 2021 Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) senior faculty Teaching Innovation Award (TIA).
“Students are more likely to engage in learning when they see value in what they’re learning,” AbdelRazig said. “They want to understand how the course material relates to the real world and their future professional career. I structure assignments and projects to be very similar to actual engineering projects.”
The FAMU Teaching Innovation Award recognizes outstanding faculty members who explore and implement nontraditional teaching strategies, approaches, techniques or tools to produce measurable gains in student outcomes. It exemplifies the efforts of the teacher to explore new ways of teaching, impacting the students to think critically.
The FAMU Teaching Innovation Award is bestowed upon two faculty members each year, one junior, one senior. AbdelRazig is the latest professor to win the award in a string of faculty teaching awards from both FAMU and FSU by of civil and environmental engineering faculty over the past two years.
“The civil department has been blessed with many outstanding teachers: this is our third university-level teaching award this year,” Lisa Spainhour, professor and chair of the college’s civil and environmental engineering department, said. “Dr. AbdelRazig is an outstanding professor and is very deserving of this honor. He has been honored with this distinction before, which shows his commitment and continued success and innovation with the students.”
AbdelRazig began his career at the college in 1999. His area of research is in construction engineering and management, infrastructure resilience, building information modeling, simulation and optimization of infrastructure systems. He explains some of the strategies he uses in a construction engineering course to engage students.
“In one of my classes I have the students study a civil litigation case. They play out all the different roles in a mock trial,” AbdelRazig said. “Some of the students play the contractor or engineer role, others take the owner role. One acts like a judge and the case plays out like a real trial. After the verdict, the class discusses the case from an engineering perspective. It’s very popular with the students and keeps them engaged in the course.”
AbdelRazig uses another strategy to develop critical thinking skills. He initially requires students to select, study and present recent journal publications related to class material.
“In my graduate courses, students analyze journal publications and learn to follow current research trends, sharpen their presentation skills and, more importantly, develop critical thinking,” AbdelRazig said. “In my undergraduate courses we have discussions about current related civil engineering projects, like the infamous ‘Boston Big Dig’ project.”
AbdelRazig employs multiple teaching strategies to improve student learning outcomes. He believes the primary mission of a university is to commit to solidly educate future generations.
Making a difference
“As an educator, I want to make a difference in these student’s lives, and to be part of their journey to successful careers. It is also imperative for me to assist students who are struggling—especially underrepresented students—and mentor and guide them to successfully navigate through their education journey,” AbdelRazig said.
“We are extremely proud of our professors and their commitment to excellence in teaching,” Spainhour said.”