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EDCI 943: Observation #1- Fall 2016

Principles of College Teaching –EDCI 943
Observation #1 – Fall 2016

Here you and your partner can post your interview questions and the observed instructor’s responses to these questions. Please refrain from listing the instructor’s name in your post. We will discuss your observation and interview experiences during class.

7 thoughts on “EDCI 943: Observation #1- Fall 2016
  1. • How long have you been teaching this class?
    He has been teaching this class for 16 years and he has the experience of teaching a big class for about 300 students and also small class sessions of 25 students during summer. Right now, the class he is teaching is about 90 which he thinks is a good class size.
    • How would you interact with students in and outside class?
    He mentioned that he likes the interaction with the students most through teaching. Some ways he would use to interact with students in class are: 1) ask open questions and see what the students’ responses are to get students involved; 2) group discussion is another way he would use in class to get students engaged in class. Besides the interaction in class, he would spend some time after class or outside the class with students to get to know them and also build a relationship with them. Some ways he mentioned to interact with students outside the class include: 1) after class questions to get to know what students understand and what don’t; 2) individual interaction outside class provides a way for him and also the students to build a personal relationship which would help him make some adjustments accordingly.
    • What do you like most about teaching?
    Students. Students are always different. I like to work together with students. I am passionate about my job. Students are always goal oriented, and they came to class prepared. I am excited and motivated to meet them.
    • What is your philosophy of teaching?
    There are two different mindsets: let students feel comfortable, or let students feel challenged. Personally speaking, I prefer the latter one. Because I want students get as much of finance as they can, I challenge them at the beginning of the class. I believe that the more uncomfortable students are, the harder they study. I set up very high standard for the students. After two weeks of class, I upload excel document to demonstrate the whole class’s scores without real names. In this case, students know how the class perform, and they realize that it is possible to achieve high scores because someone did that.
    • How do you get students engaged/interested in the class?
    Bring in guest speaker to speak to the students
    Assign group activities and assignments
    Have interactions with students
    Cracking jokes in class
    • Any advice/best practices for future instructors?
    Teach something you’re passionate about
    Focus more on the interests of the student rather than yourself.
    Challenge students, encourage them to be the best they can be.

  2. Creating engagement in the classroom is only possible if the professor is engaged with the material, and the students. Through his actions he is able to drive students to be intrinsically motivated from the onset of the semester. Students need to realize that learning is a choice, and that their instructor is their best resource. Starting with first class each student is given the opportunity to ask the instructor a question. During the following class period he answers all questions from his large lecture class. It is through this experience that students learn that the instructor respects their questions, and cares about their education. This exercise also affirms that all aspects of this course are intentional. The instructor will not teach or evaluate the student in a manner that is not beneficial to their learning.

    Each class is structured to achieve learning objectives. Students are informed what these objectives are from the beginning of class. Engagement in course is always a priority, and student’s feedback is welcomed and respected. However, it is important that the instructor maintain control of the classroom. It is your responsibility as an instructor to guide your students towards the learning objects. Whether teaching or conducting research you must understand your content, and explain your ideas in a clear and effective manner.

    His advice was to stick to your own policy and enforce it. In regards to the use of technology in the classroom, he uses research material to communicate to students why taking notes on a computer is ineffective. He follows through by encouraging limited technology use in the classroom. If a student is distracting the instructor or their classmates with technology use they will ask a student to leave immediately, and silently. Not only does his teaching strategy encourage engagement, but so do his classroom policies. Each course is designed with intentionality.

    On a final note, he reinforced that good teaching is defined by your capacity to care. The time you have is an exhaustible resource but you should enjoy your time in the classroom; by doing so your students will also enjoy it.

    Inspiring teaching strategies observed:
    • The instructor verbally and non-verbally communicated his interest in the material and being in the class. His energy was apparent.
    • The instructor used humor to add memorability to the lecture content.
    • He engaged students by sharing personal experience related to the class topic, and asking students to tell their own stories.
    • The instructor was prepared to accomplish the learning objectives. At no point did we feel that he was unsure of what his next step was.
    • He guided students to answer questions on course material. He encouraged students to speak up, and share their opinions. He also gave them time to contribute to the conversation.

  3. In our interview, we first asked what brought our teacher to teaching? She stated that in her past she never thought she would teach, and that she was a nontraditional student. She met her former husband who was going to attend K-State in the mid 80’s to work on his masters. So with her B.S. in agronomy she worked as a manager for a retail garden center, and began working with horticulture. She then went on to get her master’s at K-State in Horticulture and began teaching labs. Then after she graduated, she was asked to stay on as an instructor, but was told that without her Ph.D. she wouldn’t get very far. So she went on to get her Ph.D. and was promised a tenor track. She did her research on the intellectual development of college students and attended Jane Fischback’s class on adult education. She shared that her take away from that is that you teach the way you were taught. After she graduated, she was able to take on a faculty position, and is continuing to teach today.

    We then asked what’s the hardest thing about teaching and she answered that being a female teacher in a male dominated field. She explained that she can get a lot of bad feedback from her male students sometimes and it is hard to have to deal with it. She also explained that as she was growing up, while in school she wasn’t coddled, and feels that being coddled is what is expected by her students sometimes. She stated that it is hard because she will get a TEVAL every once in a while, that isn’t good, and so she finds her self-questioning if she used the right tone in class or expression in order to be sure she didn’t offend anyone.

    We then asked what she advises to keep students engaged and shared that she will pass around models of what she is talking about so that they can see, and she tells her class from the get go that she is “…not going to pick on you but I want to engage you, so I might call on you.” This is so that they are prepared to be called on, but it also puts a responsibility on the students to prepare for class. She also discussed the importance of being passionate and enthusiastic, and that she will move around the room and walk back and forth so that the students’ environment isn’t so still. She also said she’ll have the students pair and share and work together on assignments and activities, and if the class is really still and she can’t get their involvement that she will call out the process in the room and ask the students what is going on.

    Finally, we asked about her thoughts on students using technology in the classroom such as cell phones and lap tops, and she said she was “Old school.” She tends to hold the students accountable, and from what we witnessed from watching her class not many students were on their devices. We assume it was because of the group work, and the level of engagement that is demanded in the class.

    Overall this was an eye-opening experience to not only a different field than our own but also to new ways of teaching. – Nicole and Jessica

  4. One professor at Kansas State University recommended that new instructors do what feels natural, when asked by a group of graduate students. This professor began her career teaching from pre-made powerpoints. However, she quickly realized that this method of teaching was not true to her beliefs. Now, you will see her drawing on the projector as students follow along on their e-text that she created. She received a small research grant to develop this e-text that has facilitated the instruction of complex material to 100+ students. When asked how she gets students engaged or interested in the class, she responded that she is really open about her own successes and failures in life to help the students get comfortable. For example, she often explains why memorization will fail the students based on her experiences. She also shows how drawing can help facilitate learning, and she even incorporates small-group activities in her large class. There are two activities in small groups that the students start in class and finish on their own. The students complete a pre-test/post-test to evaluate learning and ensure that one person isn’t doing all the work. This professor most recently received a small research grant to develop resources for students with high prior knowledge of the topic. This is a great example of obtaining resources to help you be the most effective instructor that you can be.

  5. 1. How long have you been teaching the observed course?
    Forever. Since the 90s, about 20 years.

    2. How has the course plan changed/remained the same since you began teaching the course?
    It hasn’t changed very much, because the concepts in the field haven’t changed. Her curriculum has been effective for undergraduate student learning; if it isn’t broken, why fix it.

    3. What are the student learning outcomes for the course? How do you accomplish these outcomes during class? How do you assess these outcomes?
    “Help make heroes out of all of you”. No matter what you want to be (stay at home wife, CEO, etc.), I will help you become a hero at that. Uses andragogy (student-centered learning) to develop exam questions. Assess student performance on assignments using rubrics.
    4. How do you get student engaged/interested in the class?
    The happy mind learns best. Makes the learning atmosphere both enjoyable and comfortable for students. Models organizations by celebrating milestones (i.e. birthdays). Has students work through multiple exercises/activities during class periods, and each exercise/activity has at least three learning objectives.
    5. Any advice/best practices for future instructors?
    Love what you do.
    6. How do you keep yourself motivated and innovative in your teaching?
    Analogy: Sometimes you get sick of doing the dishes, but when you go to your friend’s house, you don’t mind doing their dishes because it’s a new set of dishes. Each semester, she gets a new batch of students where she can be a small part of their development.

    7. How do you achieve work-life balance?
    I don’t always achieve balance. Life is full of opportunities and I always seek them out and keep myself busy.

  6. Question: How have you modified your teaching over the last several years?
    Answer: In the beginning I lectured and now I try and convey the information in different ways. I try to work through the problems along with students and fill in the missing information. I also try not to assign too much busy work and I’ve incorporated more “new media” into my classes such as video.

    Question: How would you describe your teaching style?
    Answer: I use the Socratic method to encourage critical thinking and draw out new ideas. I try to be as current as possible, interactive and give students time to figure things out for themselves.

    Question: Was there any particular instance in your past that shaped your teaching style?
    Answer: I was influenced by people. I had a really great undergraduate instructor while in college. He was all about active learning, being current and being accessible.

    Question: What advice do you have for first-time instructors?
    Answer: Find your own approach and be accessible. Get to class 15 minutes early for students to show you are available for outside consultation.

    Question: How do you stay current?
    Answer: I follow industry and educational Twitter accounts. I also read the Wall Street Journal and relevant blogs.

    Question: How do you work with a large lecture class where students can get lost in the crowd?
    Answer: I select 12 students (Big 12) to sit in front of the class each week. I ask questions to those students and expect them to engage and interact. With 200 students, it’s a great way to get some one-on-one time and gauge student knowledge on the material that week.

  7. Katelyn Gilmore and Ghder’s Interview with a professor on Feb. 21, 2017.
    1. How long have you been teaching Principles of Finance?
    a. 16 years, since I started teaching here at K-State. I actually have been teaching for 20 years since I started teaching introductory finance classes while in graduate school in Memphis. He was hired specifically to teach Finance, in the large sections (400+ students). Up until last spring was held in Umberger and had 400 students. He was the only one that taught it and it was one big section. There are pluses and minuses, big classes versus small classes have their benefits. Today’s class was 60 students and there are 5 sections that he teaches, all with less than 100. 400+ students turned into an event like class – students wanted to see who else was there 😉 Whatever gets students to come to class is good. Back when he started teaching in 2000, there were only a few Universities that were teaching Finance so he was in high demand. He really enjoys the material, thinks about it all the time even when not in class and actually had friends and family stop talking to him about Finances because he would analyze it and/ or use it as examples in his classes.
    2. How has the course plan (lesson plans, activities, syllabus) changed or not since you started teaching the course?
    a. The class structure in terms of quizzes has changed. He would like to give quizzes to assess where the students are at but thinks that with such a large class size that it can difficult. He does give quizzes during the summer when the class sizes are smaller (30 students). But with 400 students it is just too much so he resorts to just tests and assignments and if they come in to office hours to ask for help. He has considered clicker quizzes but that is just one more thing that students have to buy and bring to class. He also will do online quizzes some semesters to still track the students’ progress.
    b. Participation is also something that has changed – he knows that he should track participation as a good instructor but again class size can be tricky. He says there is a “right way” of teaching and then what actually happens and how it is not always identical.
    3. What are the SLOs for the course? How do you accomplish these during the class? How do you assess these outcomes?
    a. First off, the SLOs are listed in syllabus. He does however notice in tevals that students mark that they were not aware of student objectives or did not feel like they met them. He finds that the way to change that is to have them listed in the syllabus and then when they complete tests and assignments that match the SLOs he will blatantly point it out  “Exam one covered the first SLO so that you know what exactly you were supposed to get from this unit.”
    b. For this class there are the “4 Big SLOs”. They are: 1. Understand the time value of money (the idea that a dollar now is worth more than a dollar in the future and that is something that gets used to make pretty much every decision in finance); the “time mastery of money” 2. Exposed to the tools and processes they will need to make decisions in investments and corporate finance 3. Key issues in corporate finance like agency issues, separation between ownership and management “Tools and processes with corporate finance”. 4. Risk measures (the idea that every has an intuitive feeling about risk and return but also that there are quantitative measures that you can use to make those decisions on a professional level). “Risk and return”.
    c. These SLOs are accomplished during class in terms of these SLOs are guiding the course for the semester. There are the 4 exams, one per SLO. But also the SLOs cover the overarching themes of the course. You bring them back to this overarching idea so they can understand there are goals for the course.  refer back to the teval comment. Reinforces with the students that there are goals in the class.
    d. A side note is that there are 400 students so it is really hard to give EVERY student feedback so he tells the class that there are general comments. For exam one he will announce in class some things that he noticed and also write them out and post them on the course website. He in addition, will encourage the students to reach out to him if they want specific advice since he cannot reach out to all of them individually – especially when some students do not want that. If they email him or visit him in office hours, he will tailor an individual plan for them or talk about individual concerns that they have, no problem.
    4. How do you get students interested/ engaged in the class?
    a. He will regularly ask the entire class if they have questions, come up with real world examples, examples the students can relate to. Like in the class that we observed, he brought up Casey’s General Store. He knows that most of his students are business majors or minors so he will steer his in-class examples to what they know and/ or what they are interested in, what they need to know, and what they can use. Beyond Casey’s General Store, another example is when he discusses income statements – their weaknesses of just looking at income and how they need to consider cash flow and other factors so they can understand what is going on with the business. He likes to bring in material that is accessible to them.
    5. What are some “best practices” that you would like to share with us new or “soon-to-be” instructors?
    a. 1. Be on time, if not early to class. 2. Regular accessibility with students – he does not have office hours the day of the exam so that he does not enable them to have bad habits but prior to the exam he allows them to come by and makes himself available to the students when possible – is willing to be on campus for most of the day. 3. Integrity with grading and especially with exams. He had 4 different versions (sometimes more) floating around to deter cheating 4. Challenge students and don’t be afraid to do that! He does not curve individual exams and yeah while that may make them feel better about themselves and about the instructor, he just doesn’t curve. The semester is going to play out how it is going to play out. But he knows that he has screwed up in writing the exam if at least 1 student does not get a 100% but by now he knows how to write exams. Prior to the end of the semester, don’t lower the standards or curve exams. The main set up of the class is that there is a high standard throughout the entire semester. Don’t worry about anything other than how much of your material they learn – don’t worry about if they like you, think you are funny, think you are smart. Just worry about how much material they learn. You can talk to students after the final but don’t lower the expectations for the course.
    6. What do you do in terms of professional development?
    a. Well I am really into this subject matter. I think about it all the time, I read about it, I visit professionals, I practice what I teach. They main thing students want is the real life information. Classroom teachers sometimes have a bad reputation that all they do is teach and they are not aware of what is going on in the real world/ business world. Therefore, I am out visiting finance professionals all the time. I took some students up to Omaha the other weekend to have lunch with Warren Buffet. It was just a casual conversation, some question and answer. So it is fun to casually drop in that fun fact during lecture “yeah, I had lunch with Warren Buffet…” the students really like that. Another example is that in the summer I will go up to the FDIC. I always take students – 3 to 4 student trips each year so that both students and I get to interact with professionals. During the summer, I am in NY and other places visiting with finance professionals. I will also read a lot of annual reports and other things so that I am always up to date on information and keeps me savvy. I will also visit with textbook publishers to see what they have to say, see if they have any innovations (I can incorporate into my lectures).
    7. What else do you do beyond teaching?
    a. I am a teaching fellow- there are various corporations that will invest in me (my teaching), like Gates Capitol Management up in New York (billion-dollar company). The principle, Jeff Gates, is an alum of K-State and he established the teaching fellowship. Essentially each year I get money to be used as I wish – yeah it’s not always as linear as using it for student trips but it is for sure used to take students to visit professionals around the country. But the money does encourage me to spend time to travel and meet with business professionals.
    8. Does your class change class to class or semester to semester (based off of how you interpret students’ feedback and in-class reactions to material)?
    a. Well in terms of class-to-class, if something doesn’t work at 9:30, I won’t use it in the 2:30 class. So if a joke or an example doesn’t work, I won’t use it. But mostly the course will change semester to semester. I will intensely look over the tevals from the students and take their suggestions and see if I can tangibly make changes they suggest. There are fewer changes now from semester-to-semester than there used to be only because I have been teaching for so long. When I first started, there were a lot of changes I would make from semester to semester.
    9. What advice would you give to instructors transitioning from a lab setting to a lecture setting?
    a. With lab it is more student involved but you can still bring some of that over to a lecture setting. If you are in a small class setting, the more things you can have them do, the better – instead of you just lecturing. Therefore, lab experience can be extremely helpful when transitioning to a lecture setting. With lecture is does depend on the setup. Especially with 400 students, you are not always going to get them all involved and have a big class discussion. In certain situations, students will come in and they will want you to put on a show but sometimes good students will not want that. They will want you to just get down to business – not start with jokes, incorporate a lot of videos – and good students are smart, they want to be challenged, they don’t want you to dumb it down, they will want you to go beyond the plain lecture. You can assign that stuff outside of the classroom if needed (flipped classroom – which is where students so a ton of work outside of class and have that foundation

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