My teaching philosophy stems from a single thought: I help students integrate their current knowledge with new knowledge. I turn this philosophy into practice through two exercises: knowledge map and knowledge process model.
To prepare the students for learning in my course, students draw their current knowledge map and I draw a knowledge process model. These two products lay the foundation to integrate what and how we will learn during a course.
For the knowledge map exercise, students start by noting their area of concentration or concentrations along with any minors in a circle. Typically, this circle appears in the middle of the paper. Next, they write five headings around the page and then provide items under each item. These headings include:
- Theories / Researchers – List theories and/or researchers you have been exposed to while at Otterbein.
- Key Experiences – List jobs, internships, and course projects that carried a research component.
- Skill sets – List all skills that they currently possess.
- Related course from other disciplines – List all courses that you perceive are relevant to this course.
- Personal Traits & Interests – List ideas or concepts that you are curious about as well as internal, or unique, state that makes you successful.
I explain each of the five items in detail, providing prompts and examples for each heading. When I see pencils or pens are no longer moving, I explain that this knowledge map should serve as Appendix A for their reflection essay. At the end of the semester, each student will complete a revised knowledge map, which should serve as Appendix B for their reflection essay.
My next questions (When is your reflection essay due? How many points is it worth?) are designed to move them into the syllabus. I ask them to look at the learning objectives, assessments of those objectives, and the points associated with the assessments.
I state that by the end of the term, my goal for them is to add these bullet points to each item, including:
- Theories / Researchers – At a minimum, resource advantage theory
- Key Experiences – course project (Retail Management, Sales), simulation (Principles of Marketing, MBA Marketing), or comprehensive case (Marketing Analtyics)
- Skill sets – Critical Thinking, Listening, Presentation, Time Management, Writing
- Related course from other disciplines – Composition, Communication, Economics, History, Literature, Mathematics, Philosophy, Political Science, Statistics
- Personal Traits & Interests – Perhaps an aspect of marketing such as research, brand management, sales, retailing, etc.
Once they have completed their knowledge map and understand the expectations for the term, I next draw several boxes on the board to show the knowledge process model. The number, size, and location of boxes vary by course because the assignments differ by course.
For example, in Marketing Analytics, the pattern of the five learning modules does not change. The learning modules are designed to prepare students for the final, comprehensive assignment. In MBA Marketing, all boxes become inter-related, which reflect how the boxes connect. Arrows connect bigger boxes to bigger boxes, and lines connect smaller boxes to smaller boxes.
Bigger boxes represent the key experience (e.g., course project, simulation, or comprehensive case) and key assessment tools (e.g., quizzes, literary criticisms, or presentation). Bigger box items reflect assignment or assignments worth many points. Smaller boxes represent low stake, key practice experiences such as writing a paragraph for each chapter, completing a reading quiz, or math problems. Small boxes exceed big boxes to reflect the greater number of opportunities to practice.
For presentations in the undergraduate courses, students need to focus on being comfortable with speaking in front of people more than developing a lengthy presentation. To improve their comfort level, I assign several short, low or no stakes speaking assignments. For example, students could perform elevator speeches, which answer a specific question in two minutes, provide a status report, or make a managerial recommendation based on analysis. After each experience, I ask students to comment on things they liked about the speeches or discussion, and things that need improvement. All students have opportunities to gain confidence with speaking in front of people ahead of the final presentation.
In the undergraduate courses, analysis is incorporated into the critical thinking process. I follow an “I do – We do – You do” method. First, I introduce an analytical concept in class and walk through several examples. Second, different students lead the class through several examples. Finally, students work through problems outside of class and present their findings and conclusions in subsequent class. I have found this teaching method helps reduce students’ apprehension with using statistical techniques and arithmetic formulae.
Writing represents an important skill for all students and, thus, an important component of all my courses. Different assignments are introduced to facilitate the development of writing. In Marketing Analytics, students write several one-page memos on shorter cases. These exercises prepare the students for the final 10-page written assignment on a longer case. In Principles of Marketing, students submit an initial, low-stakes marketing plan midway through the semester before developing a longer, high-stakes marketing plan.
Students come into my courses with varied levels of writing ability. To demonstrate quality written work, I utilize a variety of techniques. We review well-written and poorly written assignments, collectively write a response, and/or edit each other’s work in small groups. I use the same rubric to evaluate student writing throughout the quarter to foster a consistency in evaluation.
Additionally, students leave my course with exposure to time management techniques. A tool is the calendar assignment. I explain about the value of working ahead instead of working behind, relate it to my own struggles with time management and facilitate discussions of ways students manage their time. This technique helps to develop a skill that students can use long after they have completed the course.
Along with the final presentation and the related final project, students complete the final assignment; the reflection essay. Drawing on the first knowledge map they drew on the first day of class (i.e., Appendix A) and the second knowledge map they drew on the last day of class (i.e., Appendix B), students demonstrate the amount of marketing knowledge they have integrated throughout the semester.
With these processes, I practice my teaching philosophy of integrating students’ current knowledge with new knowledge. Students leave the course with a deeper understanding of how marketing knowledge relates to immediate work such as exams, projects, and presentations but also how marketing knowledge fits with knowledge gained from other courses and experiences. Thus, students leaving my course have knowledge they could use to become better citizens.