T E A C H I N G
My teaching philosophy centers on introducing students to a new mindset when viewing the business world. I view myself as responsible for enabling students to decipher the current business environment and derive implications for practice. Hence, although I fully appreciate the value of the frameworks and concepts taught in management classes, and use them to ground my teaching, I put greater emphasis on giving students a sense of how to approach real-life problems on their own based on the insights these concepts offer, even when they can no longer name the concepts they learned in class. For example, I would consider it a success if a student looked at business news differently as a result of taking my class, and could draw new practical implications.
At Penn State, I’ve taught undergraduate-level Strategic Management as a stand-alone instructor (student evaluation: 6.29/7.00). This experience taught me some lessons.
Lesson 1: Class should be interactive!
I believe that we learn the most when we can explain what we have learned in our own words. Thus, I view my role as a facilitator rather than just a knowledge transmitter. Accordingly, I let students explain the key concepts and discuss what those concepts mean to them. I step in mainly to correct misunderstandings, facilitate communication among students, and keep discussions on track. I also work closely with chosen students to select relevant, current business events and provide an introduction to the topic to be covered in class. I believe this approach has enabled students to form their own understandings of the content, rather than just commit lists and facts to short-term memory for exam purposes.
Lesson 2: Students like to learn by doing!
I’ve found that students are always curious about how the things they learned apply to the corporate world. Hence, I try to provide students with opportunities to apply what they learned as much as possible. To this end, I require students to form teams and select a firm they will do a semester-long “consulting” project on. Over the course of the semester, students submit project proposals, a preliminary report including their analyses of the firms’ current situations, and a final report that includes their strategic recommendations for the firms. I also use the teams and their chosen firms to do mini-exercises, applying the concepts covered in each session to their firms. I also employ independent cases when necessary. Through these activities, students develop a better understanding of the course content and develop analytic skills as well as the abilities to effectively communicate and collaborate with each other.
Lesson 3: Caring mind matters!
Although I prefer a student-led class, I believe truly interactive learning is impossible if the instructor doesn’t care about the students. I set up individual meetings with each student to determine when students need help. In particular, I have seen many students having difficulties engaging in discussions and devoted much effort to help them express their thoughts in class.
Below are the sample responses from students in their course evaluations: