The classroom offers a unique opportunity for growth for both the students and the instructor. For students, individual perspectives regarding business subject-matter can be reinforced and refined. For instructors, the classroom offers a dynamic environment to develop innovative ways to communicate and share knowledge. As an instructor, I work to capitalize on the opportunities available within the learning environment. I am mindful of my actions to ensure that each students finishes the semester with an enhanced understanding of the content and a greater appreciation for the value of learning. Beyond this, however, I also believe in using the classroom as a socialization tool to prepare students for the professional world. With this perspective, I design my courses and conduct each class session around two core goals: (1) to enable students to learn the course material through experiential learning and (2) to provide practical training and guidance to enable students to succeed in the job market and their careers.
I conceptualize experiential learning as learning that involves student participation, whereby the student has an active role in their learning in contrast to a passive role. In my classroom, attendance is either required as a component of their grade or incentivized through pop quizzes, and attendance is considered essential for success. While my courses involve lecture, the lecture is broken-up by small group discussions. In these small groups, students will read and analyze cases, discuss the best responses for a given situation, and prepare answers to share with the class as whole. Additionally, students are called on by name to share their experiences, articulate a concept, and respond to another student’s point. Underscoring these conversations is a psychologically safe climate that is safe for interpersonal risk taking.
On the first day of class, I articulate my participation philosophy – (1) there are no stupid questions, (2) every opinion is valid, and (3) I’d rather an incorrect answer spoken loudly than the correct answer mumbled in the back of the room. Moreover, I set aside for time for personal introductions and team building activities with the purpose of fostering familiarity and camaraderie among the students. I have found that taking the time to build a foundation of trust and respect at the beginning of the course pays dividends when it comes to the quantity and quality of student contributions and participation. I believe that experiential learning is useful for socializing students as to what is expected in the professional world, as they will be called on in meetings to share their opinions and tasked with working in groups to solve pressing organizational problems. By forcing students to speak up and engage in small group discussions – even if they would rather never speak a word in class – I hope to increase their confidence with these types of interactions.
Management is not a hard science and, while students learn important theories and concepts, most of the training we provide them for the professional world is in regard to social skills, teamwork skills, critical thinking skills, and presentation (written and oral) skills. Additionally, I believe academics have a fiduciary responsibility to students to coach them on job-related norms and to set expectations in regard to professional comportment, including appropriate dress, interview decorum, and professional job documents. I believe that this real-world training cannot be provided through a course design that is reliant on multiple-choice testing and devoid of challenging papers and projects. As a result of this conviction, my course design includes exams (which include written components), individual papers, and group projects. Through in-class activities and challenging assignments and exams, students develop the skills that are necessary in the business world.
Classes Taught at Bryant University
Management 200 - Principles of Management
Management 200 (MGT 200) is an innovative, team-based, service learning-oriented course. In this class, students are assigned cross-functional project teams and elect a team leader. In these teams, students partner with a non-profit organization and conduct a service learning project. Not only do students design and plan a project that assists the non-profit and their stakeholders, but students also implement their ideas and measure the impact of their work. This semester-long project enables students to apply the course content they are learning in class (e.g., the planning and control cycle), as well as provide a service to the local community. This work culminates in both a final report and final presentation. The top team from each MGT 200 section competes in the end of semester “Service Learning Showcase”, whereby the top three teams win prize money that is split with their partner non-profit.
Service Learning Project Examples:
Designing and teaching an after-school curriculum (“Mind Over Math”) to at-risk students, with pre-test scores in the failing range and post-test scores in the passing range. This student team also successfully organized the donation of 20 laptops to the non-profit, as well as school supplies.
Planning, organizing, hosting, and the raising the funds for a Thanksgiving Dinner for adults with developmental disabilities.
Designing a marketing plan and creating a pilot program to increase the amount of younger volunteers at a community farm which provides fresh produce to local food banks.