“Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.” ~Rudyard Kipling.
An eloquent phrase about the seemingly never-ending disagreements between Great Britain and its former colony, India, in the 1800s. Unfortunately, this phrase may also be asserted about some students’ perspectives of how the theories learned in the classroom will be applicable in their careers. As a teacher, I want to transform this perspective into one that connects theory and practice, equipping graduates of my class with the tools needed to provide new perspectives to practical management issues.
Students in my undergraduate classes are expected to move through three levels of Bloom's Taxonomy over the course of the semester: knowledge, understanding, and application. Assigned readings, and in class lecture are the media through which I help students attain the knowledge level. To help students move to the understanding level, I interject questions and solicit discussion of concepts throughout the class period, providing students with opportunities to extend their understanding of the materials beyond the confines of the formal definition. I also try to complement this with in-class activities, multimedia, games, and other interactive methods of instruction to solidify students' knowledge and understanding of the materials. Finally, to facilitate student's ascension into the application level, I incorporate a team project into my courses to allow students to apply the concepts learned in my course. For team projects, I encourage students to work with business owners in the local community. This benefits students by providing them with exposure to current problems faced by real businesses rather than historical cases that may never happen again. This also benefits the local community by providing a free service to local business owners.
I feel that the atmosphere of the class plays a large role in students' willingness to step outside their comfort zone and make significant jumps in their learning. As such, I attempt to foster an environment where questions, experimentation, and creative thinking are encouraged. To encourage diversity of thought and active participation, I encourage students to contribute to the in-class discussion regardless of whether they agree with my point of view. In doing this, I have on several occasions learned from my students' viewpoints, improving my and the other students' understanding of the materials.
When students walk into my class at the beginning of the semester with a perspective similar to that of Rudyard Kipling, I try to help them leave with a perspective more akin to that of Kurt Lewin: "There is nothing so practical as a good theory". Seeing this transformation in students is rewarding to me as a teacher and truly makes this aspect of my career enjoyable.