Practicing Academic Innovation


Stephen Zeal // Finance

When a student registers for a typical class, they’re assigned a meeting time, a specific room, and a very specific instructor. It is a process that has been used for decades and works just fine. However, Academic Innovation doesn’t call educators to do something because everyone else has. Rather, it beckons educators to think outside the box and create a pedagogy that engages the students by combining a variety of resources that appeal to many learning styles, offering different ways to learn and absorb the concepts required to be successful. That is why senior lecturer Stephen Zeal’s Finance 409 class, Survey of Financial Principles, will be delivering this knowledge in an online format to non-business majors, utilizing seven subject matter experts (not a typo).

There’s a lot to unpack on how and why this is occurring.

First, there was an opportunity to invest in this course and, subsequently, courses like it, because unknown to many, almost 5,000 students with other majors at Texas A&M pursue a business minor. To deliver the business minor in a resource-constrained environment, efficiencies and synergies are necessary, like utilizing the quickly-evolving online education technologies.

Secondly, topics like finance can be just plain difficult to grasp. Utilizing subject matter experts in modules like reviewing financial statements, understanding interest rates, valuing bonds, calculating the cost of capital, and more, Zeal empowers the students to gain access to individuals who know the topics better than almost anyone else.

“The course is a student-centered, engaging activity,” says Zeal. “We’re developing this to be a model course delivery for the future online finance courses so these experts can share their specialty with students. The main idea is to encourage the students to understand the subject from different perspectives.”

The course is expected to launch in fall 2020, and in the meantime, vision-casting, content-perfecting, and instructor video introductions are well underway.