|Posted by Stephen Lemire on February 2, 2012 at 1:20 PM|
In an earlier blog, “Many Adult Students Need Learn but One
Lesson”, I outlined my experience working with graduate students for the past 25
years. I described how a typical student has been
an experienced medical clinician (RN, technologist) who was now earning a
Master’s Degree to gain career advancement into a management role.
I also wrote of my philosophy: to create an environment
where students are encouraged to share their professional experiences; to allow
students the opportunity to process the impact of what is discussed and apply
it to their workplace; to challenge students to develop their own concepts,
support their own ideas, and learn from each other. I know this philosophy has
an impact when a student begins to think less about process (like a clinician)
and more about outcome (like a manager).
What has influenced my classroom style and how has it
evolved over time? From the outset my goal was to construct an environment that
borrowed many of the most effective elements from the instructors that I had as
a graduate and college student. This foundation has since been most influenced
by what I’ve learned from my students. Notably, if I am successful, I can tap
into the wealth of information students carry and promote a way that they can
teach one another through sharing of experiences, stories, practice styles, and
I do not require the use of textbooks in my courses as they
become outdated quickly and are a tremendous financial burden on students.
Instead, I provide links to readings, cases, and reports on a timely basis. The
projects that I assign, and the exams that I give, are not based on information
that students are expected to memorize, but rather, on scenarios in which the
students must develop their own ideas and are challenged to support them.
In each class I provide an agenda and set of objectives, as
my goal is to facilitate as if in a business meeting. I try to keep the session
crisp with short bursts of structured lecture interspersed with abundant group
discussion, reviews of cases examples, and role playing of management
exercises. I also add a segment called “Real Life Stuff” in which I outline non-curricular
items such as resume writing, interviewing techniques, business social
protocol, professional networking, etc. My students also find that their
in-class assignments are graded with an A, B, C, or F with the “F” standing for
“Fluff”. I encourage them to be direct,
succinct, and clear in all oral and written business communications.
Additionally, I believe that a large part of a student’s
education needs to take place in the community – at internships and work-study
programs. Students need practical hands-on experiences to apply what is
discussed in the classroom to understand the application of the structured
A student’s overall education, though the responsibility of
the academic institution and its instructors, is best served through a
partnership with the region’s employers who can provide curricular input, at-work
training (e.g. internships), and, ultimately, gainful employment. The critical
component of this relationship is the internship so that, among many things, the
student may learn practical hands-on applications while the employer may assess
the student’s potential employability and, ideally, offer the student a
full-time position upon graduation.
Based on objective evaluations and feedback from students,
my teaching philosophy coupled with my classroom style has been effective. I
believe that this, along with partnerships with employers to provide
internships, has provided students with many tools to succeed.
I’m about to embark into the world of online teaching. I’m
excited about learning new skills and using different technology to educate
students. My challenge will be to create a different classroom style in this
forum so that it remains the bridge between my teaching philosophy and my
conviction that employers are pivotal to train the workforce.
I’m curious about the transition that others have gone
through. If you have shifted to online teaching after a long career in the
classroom, what has been your experience?