I was born in Russia when the Soviet Union educational system had collapsed and the new one was not implemented yet. During that time, being creative or different was not the preferable quality for a student and sometimes even punishable. As a result, everyone was doing same tasks that they were required to complete at the same standard. I feel that growing up in the post-soviet environment has affected the way I teach and present information in the class today. Using my own experiences, I realized that students’ abilities are different and there are many ways in which students comprehend and process the information. Thus, I make sure that the same information is presented through different means so that students with different abilities can understand it well.
By concentrating on combining the three domains of cognitive (head), behavioral (hand), and affective (heart), I enable to engage students with different learning styles.
Cognitive (head) Level
On average, a business college graduate only uses less than 30% of whatever was learned in school and about 70% of information is picked up at work (Plumer 2013). I believe that theoretical information given in college provides a strong background that helps students in the real world. Typically, I start a class with a short lecture where I present learning objectives for the class and an introduction to the topic in addition to some critical material required for students to learn. After this, I use a task or an activity so that students can apply the concept learned in class. In order to account for different learning styles, I use a range of teaching strategies that engage students as active participants in their learning. Typically, these strategies involve students working together during class as well as individual work and/or reflection.
I use a backward design model when designing my course. In the backward design process, I structure student learning based upon assessments that are intentionally designed to provide evidence that students have achieved the course goals (Wiggins and McTighe 2005). Additionally, I refer to A Taxonomy For Learning, Teaching and Assessing (Anderson and Krathwohl 2001) as a guide for writing course goals in specific and measurable language. The taxonomy is based upon cognitive learning processes that move from lesser to greater levels of abstraction and complexity. A sample lesson plan and syllabus attached below provide specific examples of learning objectives, assessments, and activities.
In Class Activities
I am a strong believer in active learning. For several years, I have been exploring the science of learning and pedagogy, as well as reading everything that has to do with techniques and methods for meaningful, engaged classrooms. I am constantly learning and always trying new things when it comes to active learning. Thus, I design many activities in which I shift the leadership of the course to my students by creating a situation where they are responsible, in a significant measure, for their own learning. For example, I use a “Gallery Walk” activity that gets students out of their chairs and into a mode of active engagement. For students, the “Gallery Walk” activity stimulates them to share thoughts in a friendlier, supportive group rather than a larger class. For me, it is an opportunity to assess the depth of student comprehension of specific concepts as well as to challenge misconceptions.
Here is one example:
Another activity that I received positive feedback on is “Think-pair-share.” Students receive a question or a problem relevant to class and are asked to think about it first by themselves. This provides students with a solitary learning style to work through the problem. Then students discuss the problem in a group of 2 or 3 and share the views with other students. After this, they share their opinions with the class, and I engage them in a discussion to find a solution to a problem or question. This enables student with a social learning style to comprehend the information better.
The attachment below shows a “Think-pair-share” activity for one of the lectures.
If the material requires a long lecture, I provide students with an open outline so that they can follow the lecture. An open outline helps students with a logical learning style to structure the material inside their heads. An example of the open outline (completed by a student) can be found below. Alternatively, I provide a graphic outline or a concept map during some of my classes so that students’ with visual learning styles can enhance their learning and understanding of the subject matter. An example of a graphic outline is available below. Graphic outlines guide learners’ thinking as they fill in and build upon a visual map or diagram. In a variety of formats dependent upon the task, graphic maps and open outlines facilitate students’ learning by helping them identify areas of focus within a broad topic and make connections and structure thinking (Sivan et al. 2000).
I use immediate feedback (IF-AT) forms for both formative and summative assessments. You can find an example of in-class problems under the formative assessment and an exam under the summative assessment below. During my classes, I use immediate feedback (IF-AT) forms to allow students to work in small groups (usually 4-5) to self-pace through in-class problems. The immediate feedback forms allowed students to check their progress, use cooperative learning to resolve their misconceptions, and ask the instructor questions only when truly stuck (Epstein et al. 2002). Furthermore, students become more comfortable with the scratch forms, which reduces stress when they take an exam. For the exam, students are provided with an individual scratch form for multiple-choice questions. Scratch forms provide students with immediate feedback on every question, thus reducing a pressure, and stress common while taking tests. Moreover, it provides students with an opportunity to receive partial credit for questions that they answer from the second attempt. Using the IF-system allows students to continue answering a question until they discover the correct answer. This ensures that students’ last response recorded in their minds is the correct one. Thus, the IF-AT teaches while it assesses, facilitating learning and improving students’ retention of the information (Mohrweis and Shinham 2015).
Another strategy that I use on a cognitive level is gamification. Gamification is about more than just playing games; it can be defined as the concept of applying game-design thinking to non-game applications (Wood and Reiners 2012). For example, I use MIT’s “beer distribution game” to explain to students the concept of “bullwhip effect.” The beer game is a role-play supply chain board-game that lets students experience typical supply chain problems. In the beer game, students enact a four-stage supply chain. The task is to produce and deliver units of beer: the factory produces and the other three stages deliver the beer units until they reach the customer at the end of the chain. The players’ aim is rather simple: each of the four groups has to fulfil incoming orders of beer by placing orders with the next upstream party. Communication and collaboration are not allowed between supply chain stages, so players invariably create the so-called “bullwhip effect”. The game does a great job of showing participants the pitfalls of poor communication, lack of visibility, and the “bullwhip effect”. Students can experience “fun” during the game and still learn with high level of engagement.
Furthermore, I use the Jeopardy game to enhance student understanding of Marketing Research and Supply Chain Management exam material. An exam review helps students recognize the important points of the course material and guides their study efforts. Overall, different studies indicate that the Jeopardy game significantly increases the student’s understanding of the class material that was covered (Keck 2000). After each exam review, my students requested that they be allowed to play the Jeopardy game again because it was so much fun and they felt that they were learning. Overall, gamification strategies with high levels of engagement lead to an increase in recall and retention.
Student feedback below reflected my effort:
“For starters, I have really enjoyed this class! I love the fact that this class had a few different elements that made it fun and engaging especially since the topic is fairly dry. Personally, I had never heard of a scratch-off exam before this semester and I have since become a huge fan of this method. I feel that this type of exam helped me learn the course material better because I could immediately see the correct answer to any questions that I missed and look up the term after the exam.”
“She is always friendly and willing to help us for any questions. Especially, her teaching methods are very helpful. For example, we had a game mode of exam review before the exam day. We did it as a team. The winner team got candies. Overall, game review is very helpful and interesting. Because I had a deeper impression for those questions and it was easy to memorize [sic].”
“I believe the class activities we had during the semester were very helpful to understand the concepts we learned. Consequently, when studying for the exam those cases guided me to remember those terms straightforward. The teaching methodology of our professor Shaheen made our way to process all the information provided easier. She used entertaining tools such as visualizations in her power points and videos about the topics discussed in class. I love how sometimes we would have to teach ourselves a certain topic, design a poster about the information, and then teach it to our fellow classmates because that way, we were not just forced to read the text or listen to her presentations, but we were able to explain and learn a topic in a more easy way, explained by students to students.”
Behavioral (hand) Level
Previous research has shown that a student learns more quickly and retains more information when the subject matter pertains to them personally (van der Meij and de Jong 2006; Sivan et al. 2000). The act of doing makes learning extremely personal. As Sir Richard Branson says, “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.” Therefore, I use a business simulation in which students are executives for different companies compete with each other in the fictitious business environment. The simulation enables students to narrow the gap between the academic knowledge acquired and the real skills essential for the workforce today. Students can practice running companies without a fear of causing actual damage. If a group fails, they can try any number of times until they succeed since learning from your own mistake is one of the best ways to retain knowledge.
During the simulation, students submit individual executive brief reports that allow them to learn to write clearly and concisely, and, as a result, improve their written communication skills. Executive briefs also allow me to track the performance of each student individually and provide frequent and relevant feedback. An example of the executive brief prepared by students is available below. At the end of the semester, students present their simulation projects in front of the class. Presentations allow students to build additional confidence that most of them will need in the workplace. They also learn to listen effectively and present their ideas properly.
After graduation, young professionals are under pressure to apply knowledge in real companies. By using new technologies that help integrate the simulation technique into my learning system, I can reduce this pressure efficiently. The advanced technologies enable me to personalize the student’s journey of learning. Finally, I have access to quick and detailed results about the progression of every student, and use that information for tracking and optimizing the learning content, practice and environment.
“Market Research class this semester proved to be a class that not only challenged me intellectually but also tested me on my ability to perform. Professor Shaheen did fantastic job by following the quote on her syllabus by Benjamin Franklin, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” I have definitely learned how to better equip myself as a teammate, think like the enemy, and manage a company.”
“Although I had an opportunity to learn in each of my other marketing class, Marketing Research gave me the closest thing that I’ve had to real world experience to date. The Marketplace Live game simulation was a great look into working for an actually company. In this simulation, I got to be the VP of Brand Management, where my main job was to design products that will be beneficial to our target market. These lessons serve as a good foundation for me as I approach graduation and begin my post-graduation job hunt.”
Affective (heart) Level
“Students aren’t passionate about their subjects any more, say lecturers. All they care about is job prospects,” Jessica Shepherd reports in The Guardian. Recent studies indicate that undergraduates these days do not necessarily expect to love their subject the way they did a decade or more ago (Shepherd 2008). As a result, this negatively affects students’ learning. I believe that in order to be successful, one must be passionate since passion makes challenges enjoyable. When students become passionate and interested about the material and the subject, the learning improves.
Many students are more inductive than deductive reasoners, which means that they learn better from examples than from logical development starting with basic principles (Mustoe and Croft 1999). The use of case studies is therefore a very effective classroom technique. I use case studies that explain different companies so that students become engaged with the subject and explore how what they have learned applies to real world situations. The video provides an example of a typical case study. Using the Harvard Business School approach, I create an effective learning system that enables learners to rehearse real-life scenarios and challenges in a safe environment. The attachments below show an example of a case situation, instructions for the case study write up (summative assessment for students to complete individually) as well as a student example of a case study write up. By using case studies, I expose students to real-world issues with which they may be faced which in turn increases student motivation and interest in a subject (Mustoe and Croft, 1999).
Additionally, I regularly invite guest speakers from both for-profit and nonprofit companies. Guest speakers have become an important part of the educational experience for my students. They expose students to real-world life experiences from the position of someone who has been there. Guest speakers allow me to offer something that I cannot offer my students: a different perspective. Additionally, guest speaker support topic that I may know little about. Overall, professional, experienced guest speakers really make an impact on my students and make them more passionate.
“A plethora of case studies that she brought into class and let us read through them and then discuss and analyze together really touched me at the bottom of my heart. [sic] For example the one about UPS and the most recent one from Amazon and their attempts to venture into the offline retail markets, helped me view the world around us in a different way. Nowadays, whenever I receive a package after ordering something online, I now know what different steps the product must have gone through.”
“The insights gained from this class were many and fundamental. In the real business work many companies look to recruit people who are capable of working with a team, are passionate, and have the ability to solve problems. This class definitely prepares us to work confidently in the workplace and provide different solutions due to our experience gained in the simulation marketplace.”
Finally, I constantly learn and evolve to make sure that I keep up with a fast-moving world. I attended a Harvard Teaching Seminar that taught me how to engage students in relevant case study methods. Additionally, after completing the Preparing for College Teaching Course, I learned various approaches to create active engagement in the classroom. I also invite other professors and instructors to observe my teaching and provide me with frequent and relevant feedback that I then use to do things differently than in the past. By using innovative techniques, I make sure that my students learn how to create and develop information as well as how to sort out relevant information to form their own opinions.
Anderson, L.W., Krathwohl, D.R., Airasian, P.W., Cruikshank, K.A., Mayer, R.E., Pintrich, P.R., Raths, J., & Wittrock, M.C. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives, abridged edition. White Plains, NY: Longman.
Epstein, M. L., Lazarus, A. D., Calvano, T. B., Matthews, K. A., Hendel, R. A., Epstein, B. B., & Brosvic, G. M. (2002). Immediate feedback assessment technique promotes learning and corrects inaccurate first responses. The Psychological Record, 52(2), 187-201.
Keck, M. V. (2000). A final exam review activity based on the Jeopardy format. Journal of Chemical Education, 77(4), 483.
Mohrweis, L. C., & Shinham, K. M. (2015). Enhancing Students’ Learning: Instant Feedback Cards. American Journal of Business Education, 8(1), 63-70.
Mustoe, L. R. & Croft, A. C. (1999). Motivating Engineering Students by Using Modern Case Studies. European Journal of Engineering Education, 15(6), 469-476
Plumer, B. (2013). Only 27 percent of college grads have a job related to their major. The Washington Post.
Shepherd, J. (2008). What happened to the love? The Guardian.
Sivan, A., Wong Leung, R., Woon, C., & Kember, D. (2000). An Implementation of Active Learning and its Effect on the Quality of Student Learning. Innovations in Education and Training International, 37(4), 381-389
van der Meij, J., & de Jong, T. (2006). Supporting students’ learning with multiple representations in a dynamic simulation-based learning environment. Learning and instruction, 16(3), 199-212.
Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. Ascd.
Wood, L., & Reiners, T. (2012). Gamification in logistics and supply chain education: Extending active learning. Internet Technologies & Society, 101-108.