BPS DOCTORAL CONSORTIUM 2013 KIRA R. FABRIZIO BOSTON UNIVERSITY Teaching Tips & Tricks
Standard advice Stack your teaching in one semester. Secure one prep that you can teach for many years. Dont re-invent the wheel. Use your colleagues as resources. If you teach more than 30 students, ask for a TA. Bottom line: minimize time dedicated to teaching (subject to teaching quality constraint) in order to maximize time on research.
Less conventional ideas Teaching is not just about the content Think about the course as a student experience Engage the students beyond absorbing the content Get students emotionally involved in the material Students take ownership of the course Opportunity to inspire, change minds and lives How can we do this? In-class activities & simulations Debates Student experts in class Bring yourself to class Make learning visible
The truly radical Change the way you think about your course material What is the experience you want to give students? How will the class challenge their thinking? What are the big-picture questions you want them to ask and wrestle with? What do you want them to walk away with after the course? Reformat your class around these themes, incorporate research, activities, sharing, reflection that engages students more deeply with the big questions. Adjuncts / professors of practice
A new way to conceptualize a course The two-layered course: 1: What engages the students Incorporate the big picture questions, themes, and puzzles. Get students to question their assumptions, see the world in a different way, build a genuine interest in the topic. Bring your passion to class! 2: The content The tools, theories, concepts, and technical knowledge that helps to us understand and unpack those questions and puzzles. Dont shy away from the heavy lifting! Students appreciate rigor that helps them make sense of a puzzle. Connecting the themes and puzzles together to a uniting framework that allows students to see all the pieces in a new way.
Example: my course on sustainability The Student Experience Connect with the students passion for a better world, the puzzle of how to square profitability and environmental protection. What responsibility does a firm have for its impact on the environment? Why? How? All firms? Debates on fracking, McDonalds, Cape Wind provide opportunities for engaged learning, analysis, persuasion, ethics. Simulations, student experts, very selected visitors The Content Frame discussions, conclusions, tools in economics: externalities, competition, incentives, information asymmetry. Link varied examples back to coherent theoretical framework.
Does this conflict with conventional thinking? Isnt my primary goal to minimize teaching time and get more research done? Yes! And being a better teacher can make that happen. The two-layer approach does NOT take more time. Especially if you are starting from scratch. In fact, you will expend less effort convincing the students that what you are saying is interesting so they will be more eager to learn! A good classroom experience will make your life easier and more productive, teaching can be a positive in your career, not something to minimize.