Whether explicit or implicit, every educator structures his or her instructional approach around specific philosophical beliefs and principles. My teaching philosophy is guided by the following three principles, each of which is described below:
Students are better prepared for their careers through exposure to real-world experiences and simulation-based learning
Educators must constantly rethink what they are doing and adapt to the changing environment.
Educators are role models through their actions as well as their words; therefore, they should strive to be positive role models.
One of my major goals in teaching is to give students real-world examples and experiences. Where appropriate, I include a semester-long project in my classes. In MIS 5100/5110 Systems Design and Implementation, students work in small teams and design and develop complete software applications for clients. In MIS 5450 Designing Graphical User Interfaces, students work individually to design competitive websites for one client. In MHR 5350 Contemporary Manufacturing Management, students work in teams with local companies to improve a process at each company. I maintain relationships with local profit and non-profit organizations to provide projects for my classes. The fact that some companies (Goldsystems, Icon, Presto, etc.) provide us with projects every semester indicates the high quality of the projects.
Teaching is not a static activity; rather, it is a process that needs continuous improvement, especially in a fast-paced, ever-changing field like Management Information Systems. I utilize multiple methods to implement continuous improvement in my classes every semester.
Students provide me with a rich source of information regarding areas for improvement. My teaching style is very interactive, focusing heavily on discussion, Socratic questioning and hands-on exercises. I pay special attention to which questions are asked repeatedly, since that is an indication that the concept has not been understood very well by the students. During the class period I can modify the instruction using new examples. After each lesson I take notes on where students had problems and what worked well so that I can adjust my material for the next semester. Toward the end of the semester I usually have a short discussion with the class where students can comment on what they would change in the class. In addition, I analyze the student comments from the teaching evaluations and make changes where appropriate.
Peers provide a valuable source of improvement techniques. I participate in continuous improvement via discussions with colleagues, participating in teaching workshops and conferences, and reading teaching-related journals and websites. I have professors recognized for their outstanding teaching ability observe my teaching and offer suggestions for improvement. I also participate in the Provost’s lecture series of teaching workshops and have found them very useful. I have incorporated some of the exercises presented in the workshops into my classes. When I go to conferences, I attend and present teaching-related presentations and workshops. I consistently read teaching-related journals that provide not only teaching-related research but also Teaching Tips that I can incorporate into my classes. Additionally, since information technology is constantly changing faster than print publications, I read a variety of technology-related websites. The digital information helps me keep up to date with my knowledge/skills and adjust the content of the classes accordingly.
One of the most important responsibilities of an educator is to serve as a positive role model. I take this responsibility very seriously and attempt always to exhibit the same professionalism that I expect from students. Several actions I take represent the level of professionalism students will be expected to demonstrate in society and the workplace.
One of the first characteristics of professionalism that I try to teach through demonstration is being prepared. I arrive early for class meetings with all materials prepared and I expect students to do the same. Careful preparation by both me and the students enables us to engage in much more meaningful discussions and progress more quickly through the learning exercises. Our discussions provide another opportunity for demonstrating professionalism: respecting others’ opinions. I encourage spirited but respectful discussions, challenging students to think critically about the discussion concepts and to provide alternative perspectives while simultaneously respecting divergent opinions of others. Another way I demonstrate respectful critiques is through oral and written feedback. I strive to provide immediate and analytical feedback on tests and assignments—feedback that encourages students to think about alternative perspectives to problems.
Another way I serve as a role model to students is to teach them how to be independent, lifelong learners. When I don’t know the answer to a question, I show students how to find the answer by either researching the questions on the Internet or (if it’s a web design question) how to develop a small web site to test it. Especially in the ever-changing field of Management Information Systems, more important for students is how to learn rather than what to learn.
Finally, I demonstrate respect for students through an “open door” policy. Students know that I care about them and their learning. They know that they are always welcome to come to me for guidance. Although I will not give them direct answers, I will provide them with guidance on where and how they can find the answers to their questions.