TEACHING PHILOSOPHY

Dr. Thomas J. East

When earning my MBA I had a business professor that would say “everyone get out your book and
turn to the first page of Chapter XX”. The instruction was just that – read from the book!
Having already read the chapter, I was hoping he would bring the chapter to “life”. However,
he only followed the book, and I did learn, but it was only information, not knowledge.

Real life experiences and making the book come alive is the ultimate learning experience…

As students we have all encountered a teaching style as I have described above. As a Business Management faculty member, I believe my role in the classroom is a facilitator of information and new concepts in the business field that brings the material to 3D. I like to challenge the students by encouraging them to participate in discussions and encouraging them to express their opinions on current issues. I believe in the democratic and proactive system of teaching/management, thus, I often allow students to participate in the decision making process.

I do use the lecture format as I believe it serves a purpose, and students must be acclimated to this method to succeed in their careers. However, many additional teaching methods exist today which can be utilized to enhance the retention of information shown during lectures. For example, I employ a variety of hands-on activities and discussions interspersed throughout the class period to break up the monotony of the typical lecture. This forces students to quickly recall the information which they have just been exposed to, and utilize that knowledge to accomplish a task. Constant application enhances student involvement, excitement, and retention of knowledge. Additionally, I use cooperative learning techniques in these activities to increase student inclusion and participation.

When I do utilize lectures, I create hand-drawn flow charts and PowerPoint animations to illustrate important business concepts. Today’s students are very technologically driven, and the use of online materials has proven highly effective in my classroom. On the class website, I have developed online quizzes, which allow students to formatively assess their progress in the course material. This website also contains important announcements/reminders, access to the class content, links to important scientific articles, and discussion boards in which students can clarify questions or debate scientific concepts. I believe that the use of technology can make the classroom a more organized and enriched experience for the students and increases their marketability in the business environment.

I am a strong advocate of bringing the real world to the classroom. I accomplish that by relating the business theories and concepts to current global developments and technological innovations. I also encourage students to keep informed by continuously relating assignments to current business and world news and by searching the Internet. I believe the Internet provides a great research, communication, and information tool to students; therefore, I have designed projects that require Internet usage and comprehension.

In addition, I have on occasion invited guest speakers from local businesses to various classes to share their opinions, wisdom, and expertise with the students. Furthermore, I use modern, up-to date videos of various business cases to provide support to the business concepts and theories discussed in the class. Finally, students participate in simulation business games and small business projects that allow them to further enhance their knowledge of the business environment.

It is important to me that students gain not only business, leadership and management knowledge in my classes, but also communication skills and values necessary to succeed in the real world. We practice public-speaking skills through oral presentations. Classmates further develop their communication skills through student-led discussions on current, controversial ethical issues in the news. This allows students to ponder and evaluate difficult situations that they may face in their careers, while questioning their own belief systems. As a result of each of these activities, students gain skills and values that go beyond traditional book learning. In addition, these activities will allow students to act effectively as valued members of their local and business communities.

As an alumnus of a management school, I gained first-hand knowledge of the importance of the teacher-student relationship in fostering student’s motivation and attitude toward learning. I strive in my own teaching to learn not only the name of each student, but also his/her interests, hobbies, and goals. Although this can become challenging in larger classroom settings, it can be achieved through proper time management and regularly scheduled meetings with students. I feel it is absolutely essential that students feel like valued individuals and contributors both in and out of the classroom, and that this confidence is essential to their learning experience and ultimate success.

Once a teacher-student relationship has been established, it is then imperative to convey to students your own excitement and interest in the field. My most memorable professors were essentially entertainers, who were able to impart knowledge in memorable, unique, and ultimately fun ways. Years later, I still remember those professors and the lessons that they taught. They remind me of the important role that teachers play in life-long learning habits, and inspire me to present material to my students in innovative ways.

It is my goal not only to provide my students with the basic understanding and application of business leadership and management, but also to enable them to work with each other in group settings, be creative, and to effectively communicate their ideas and concerns. Students should be viewed as individuals that are capable of anything and everything. As an instructor I must be able to recognize the abilities, talents, and deficits of their students and systematically work on reducing the deficits and nurturing their talents. My goal is to provide the ultimate learning experience that will enable the student to have the opportunity to effectively compete and excel in today’s business environment.