Preparing to Teach in Business

I consider preparing to teach as the start to a fantastic journey, one where the destination may never be fully reached. And one where the journey itself is so much more than an attempt to arrive. It is more than preparing to be knowledgeable about the content or preparing the physical space. How will you prepare to interact with students? What will you do to shape their minds and facilitate change in their knowledge and skills?

“Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.” - Malcolm Forbes

In a survey of nearly 300 college teachers, Blackburn, Bober, O'Donnell, and Pellino (1980) found that 92% of faculty members believed their own teaching was above average[1], but there are very few doctoral programs that provide training on effective teaching, so most instructors are left to “figure it out” on their own or struggle to know how to enhance their practices in the classroom.

This course is designed to prepare business graduate students for post-secondary teaching. The course will focus on the practical skills necessary to teach, both as a PhD student and as a new faculty member. As a student in this course, you will learn the essentials of preparing to teach, including how to create a syllabus, set learning objectives, manage a classroom environment, and encourage student engagement. You will consider your beliefs about teaching, and develop a teaching philosophy statement. You will practice a variety of teaching methodologies, gain exposure to a wide range of perspectives on teaching, and learn about a variety of technologies to support learning.

[1] Blackburn, R. T., Bober, A., O'Donnell, C., & Pellino, G. (1980). Project for faculty development program education: Final report. Ann Arbor, Ml: University of Michigan, Center for the Study of Higher Education

Course Learning Objectives

At the completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Articulate their own teaching philosophy
  • Design a course syllabus and create a course outline
  • Identify strategies to manage students and the classroom environment
  • Use multiple teaching techniques and explain their advantages and disadvantages
  • Create and implement in-class activities that engage students and encourage interaction
  • Identify elements that make an effective assessment
  • Exhibit confidence as a university instructor

Course Expectations

Depending on your future academic placement, a good balance of your time as a faculty member will be spent on your teaching. This required course is only one of the courses you will take during your PhD program. All the other courses in your program will help you be successful in the research-oriented portion of your career. This course is designed to prepare you for the teaching-oriented portion of your career; thus, it is essential that you put in the necessary time on it.

This course will be practical and provide you with strategies you can use immediately. You will create a syllabus, develop a course outline, and design learning activities. You will review resources on teaching and practice presenting lessons, activities, and assignments for a course you plan to teach. On each of these tasks, you will receive feedback from the instructor and your peers. You have had plenty of experience as a post-secondary student, so you probably intuitively know a lot about what works and what does not work in a classroom. I encourage you to use your experiences to develop your own teaching style and to help your peers develop theirs, but you should also balance that innate sense of what works with your understanding of how people learn which you will develop in this course.

As an instructor, you will expect certain things from your students such as punctuality, professionalism, respect for other students, and preparation. I expect these things from you as well. When you are in class I expect you to participate fully, providing feedback to your peers, listening carefully to the discussion, sharing ideas, etc. Unlike research, there is no wiggle room when it comes to teaching deadlines – the class will happen whether you are ready or not. Do not come to class unprepared.

Prior to this course or early in the semester, you should participate in the University of Florida’s Graduate Teaching Assistant Orientation (https://teachingcenter.ufl.edu/ta-development/ta-orientation/). Additionally, if English is not your native language, you may also need to participate in a course through the university’s Academic Spoken English (http://ase.ufl.edu/courses.html).

Course Activities

Because most of you are new to teaching, much of this course will focus on getting you prepared for that first time in the classroom. Much of your learning about how to teach will actually occur not in this course, but when you are teaching your first class. Thus, our focus in this course will be to provide you with guided preparation for teaching, giving you the skills necessary to be as good as you can be in your first class. As such, a large portion of your grade in this course relates to material you will prepare for use in your first course**. You will develop a syllabus, you will prepare a course outline and class activities, and you will design assessments. All of these materials will be critiqued by me and some will be critiqued by your peers. The feedback you receive should help you to improve them for when you use them in your first class.

**If you do not know which course you will be assigned to teach, you may select any appropriate undergraduate course from your department. In this case, you should seek input from your department chair, graduate coordinator, or PhD advisor.

SHADOW JOURNAL

During the semester, you will attend a course being taught in your department, preferably one on a topic you will be teaching (or something close to it). The course should be selected in coordination with your PhD advisor, department, and with your class schedule. The instructor of the course you will shadow must approve this ahead of time (it is your responsibility to talk to the instructor and ask for their approval). You will be expected to attend all class sessions and keep a journal of your observations each day on a variety of topics including teaching methods used (what works and what doesn’t), materials (textbook, cases, etc.), discussion techniques (what gets students talking and what doesn’t), activities (what seem more/less effective), assessment methods (what is used? why? Is it the right choice?), etc. You will use this journal to write a reflection at the end of the semester, so it is in your best interests to keep detailed thoughts as you go.

IN-CLASS LESSONS

During the semester you will have several opportunities to present teaching sessions to your peers and get feedback. At least one of these teaching sessions will be videotaped. Watching a video of your teaching can be a humbling experience but also can be extremely useful. You will see moments where you are better than you think you are, and you will discover opportunities where small changes could make big improvements. It’s a difficult thing to watch yourself but I believe you will find it worthwhile.

PORTFOLIO

As you prepare lessons, develop a syllabus, reflect on your teaching experiences, and create activities and assignments, you will start to build out a teaching portfolio. You will have the opportunity to submit a draft of your portfolio, and then a final version of your portfolio, with the expectation that you will continue to develop this portfolio long after you complete this course.

WARRINGTON TEACHING PANELS

As we progress through the course I think you will start to realize that there is no single formula for great teaching. There is no “right answer.” Although there are some fundamental elements that will help (which is what our course will focus on), what works for one person may not work for another. For this reason, there will be several opportunities for you to attend teaching panels that include presenters from top faculty in Warrington as well as guests who will share their teaching expertise. In addition, we will have a session on technology enhanced learning and ways that you can bring technology into the classroom while focusing on the learning.

Policies

ASSIGNMENT SUBMISSIONS

When you submit an attached file for an assignment, always keep a copy of your original file for reference, especially if you use a computer lab to complete the work. Immediately after submitting an assignment, check to make sure that it was correctly received by the system that your attachments are there, etc. Notify me immediately if there are any problems with your assignment submission. You are the person who has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that assignments are submitted to the course website successfully and on-time.

COURSE COMMUNICATIONS

All communication for this course should be handled inside the e-Learning system course website using the Inbox. Questions regarding grades should be sent privately. Additionally, announcements will be posted through the course site and sent to your email address automatically. It is my goal to respond to your course questions promptly—at least within 48 hours during the business week.

UNIVERSITY POLICY ON CHEATING

Cheating in any form is not permitted within this class. Academic honesty and integrity are fundamental values of the University community. Students should be sure that they understand the UF Student Honor Code. In addition, you must be sure to cite all works used in completing assignments. Failure to properly follow copyright will result in a loss of points.

UNIVERSITY POLICY ON ACCOMMODATING STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES

Students requesting accommodation for disabilities must first register with the Dean of Students Office. The Dean of Students Office will provide documentation to the student who must then provide this documentation to the instructor when requesting accommodations. You must submit this documentation prior to submitting assignments or taking the quizzes or exams. Accommodations are not retroactive, therefore, students should contact the office as soon as possible in the term for which they are seeking accommodations.