Saturday, November 19, 2011

MBA Teaching tips

WARNING:  Be aware that successful teaching comes in many different forms, and that you have to develop a style that works for you.  Here are some tips that I have found useful.  

Build the course around the deliverables:  Because they are so busy, it is difficult to motivate students to do work that is not tied to deliverables.  So I design the course around the deliverables, and then figure out what I need to teach in order for students to successfully complete the deliverables.  

Put the particular ahead of the general:  I begin each topic with a real business puzzle that motivates the material for the students.  Then I get to the general principles, using as-simple-as-I-can make-them models.

If students are not asking question, they are not engaged:  and if they are not engaged, they are not learning.  Sometimes, I will say more and more outrageous things, just to get students to respond.  And once they do, the class always seems to flow better. 

Slow down:  the most common mistake that I make is to speed up in order to get through the material that I have on my slides or in my teaching outline for the day.  This is folly.  Students have enough trouble absorbing material without you trying to speed through it. Instead, slow down.  Students will absorb very little from fast teaching.

Cold call:  I find that this keeps students engaged in class (fear?), and I don’t accept “I don’t know” for an answer.  I stand there until the student comes up with an answer, and then turn to the student sitting next to him, and ask what they think of the previous answer and why.  I do make exceptions for foreign students who have obvious difficulty with the language. 

Anticipate lethargy:  when I feel that the class has slowed down, I show a video or make students do in-class problems to switch things up.  However, if you do an exercise, or show a video, always debrief it.  What seems obvious to you is not to the students.

Never answer a student’s question directly:  instead, get another student to answer it. 

Never add material to the syllabus:  It is OK to remove assignments from the syllabus, but never add, or shift assignments around.

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