At the first “Teaching Courageously” event, hosted by Mays Business School’s Academy of Learning and Teaching (MALT), eight faculty members from Mays Business School spent 20 minutes experimenting with new methods of teaching.
Held over three sessions throughout the day, the event drew 60 people from around Mays to participate and give feedback to the courageous faculty members. “I believe that ‘Teaching Courageously’ reflects the spirit of MALT, which is to enhance the culture of teaching and learning and provide a space for each of us to experiment with new ideas,” said MALT Coordinator Kris Muir, a lecturer at Mays.
With the expressiveness of a Ted Talk speaker, accounting Professor Karen Farmer dove right into the day’s assignment for her simulated class of three students. She drew a diagram on the makeshift “whiteboard” – a sheet of paper on the wall behind her – and gave her “students” a framework for reading an article she gave them: consider the “Good, the Bad, and the Bottom Line.” The students read silently to themselves, making notes on their own diagrams. Then Farmer invited to students to discuss their personal takeaways.
“This is a variation of an assignment I’ve done before in class,” Farmer said, who has been teaching ACCT 329 “Cost Management and Analysis” for eight years at Mays. Before, she had simply read the article aloud for the class, she said, like telling a story. But she wanted to find a way to better engage her classroom of 160 students. “Storytelling is an effective way to get students’ attention. With a discussion, I can still use storytelling, but in a large setting without having to be the primary storyteller. This way, students can tell their own stories.”
As they enjoyed refreshments, the faculty members received feedback from their simulated classrooms, comprised of an assortment of faculty, staff and students. Accounting major Corey Smith ’17, a student in Farmer’s 329 course, participated in the discussion and said he liked the new way Farmer presented the material.“Changing the style of the class is helpful to get students to ‘check in’ to the learning process,” Smith said.
“My job is one part teaching material and nine parts getting students to care,” Farmer said. “Some students think this kind of activity isn’t relevant to the class. But this is a way that I can add value to my course. Material is much more than tests. In fact, my subject – cost management and analysis – has a lot of real world applicability.
Management major Sharrissa Stratton ’17 said she had no idea what to expect when attending the Teaching Courageously event. “But as I left I felt refreshed as I was reminded of why I am here at Mays Business School. I was reminded that though exams are very important, learning from the professors’ stories, passions and ideas could be one of the greatest connections between a student and professor.”
For Farmer, enriching her curriculum with “Teaching Courageously” is all a part of her larger mission as an educator. “Why are we teachers? Because we want to give back,” she said. “We’re trying to mold the business leaders and managers of tomorrow.”