I believe that students must develop a capacity for self-monitoring and self-generation of ideas. In addition, students must learn how to formulate business research questions, write in a professional manner, and conduct business-based research. I believe that teaching the fundamental principles in business data analytics and requiring students to think critically provide the learning foundation for a good business graduate. Thus, there are three principles to my teaching philosophy
- Help students understand the fundamental principles by mapping them to applied examples in their life;
- Show students the big picture of their field by linking concepts in each course to the whole program; and
- Motivate students to develop their own critical thinking skills.
My goal is to provide learning experiences to students where they can acquire new knowledge, work with their classmates, and then find places in their lives where these principles are real and applicable. I consider that students have different learning styles; some of them prefer reading textbooks, some of them learn best by listening or watching streamed video lectures, some of them like to work in groups, and others like to work individually. Therefore, I record all my lectures, and sometimes I use variety of pedagogy models, such as the flipped classroom pedagogy where I ask students to watch my lectures and come to classroom for discussion only; I also incorporate group activities in some lectures. Such activities not only help the learning process as students collaborate with each other, but they also build valuable communication skills that help them know how to solve problems with others in the future.
For performance measures, I like to use individual and group projects. These can be mid-term assignments or end-of-term projects, depending on the complexity of the requirements and the time it will take to complete them. All assignments are broken up with milestones; by using these interim checkpoints, students learn how to tackle larger problems by breaking them into smaller, more accomplishable parts. I also hold regular office hours so that students can discuss their ideas during the process of working on and writing up their projects. I also challenge students in quizzes, but my purpose is to obtain feedback from them on their acquisition of the concepts and new knowledge they have gained.
The most important lesson for me has been the recognition that the teaching of data analytics must be interactive and involve the student. Of course, it is absolutely important to be able to explain ideas to students, both in lecture and on a more personalized “office hours” level, and I believe, based on student evaluations, that I do this so well. However, true understanding of course materials matures more gradually in the brain of the student, and as a teacher, my true job is to simplify and foster this development as much as I can by using a variety of techniques as needed. More specifically, through my participation in the Quality Matters professional development program, I have been learning about techniques such as Student-Centered Pedagogy and the EPIGEUM Methods (in which the course is driven by students discovering and interacting with each other), which I feel fit well with my philosophy of teaching. Another essential part of my teaching philosophy is that students must learn not only to “do” data analytics, but also to communicate and share their findings effectively. I often assign classroom presentations and poster sessions as an opportunity for students to communicate orally what they have learned.
As a teacher and a member of the information systems community, I am strongly committed to encouraging and supporting diversity in my students and colleagues, to educating myself about removing barriers to inclusiveness, and to ensuring that success in data analytics is available to all. I believe business data analytics as a discipline must be inclusive of all races, ethnicities, genders, personalities, and socioeconomic and educational backgrounds. Outside the classroom, I look for opportunities to advise and mentor students from all backgrounds and business majors, and I seek ways to encourage those who are underrepresented to pursue FUSE grants with me.
While I have learned much about teaching at Western Kentucky University thus far, and believe I am able to practice it effectively, I am under no illusions as to having perfected it. Indeed, I feel that perhaps the most important aspect of a good teacher is the willingness to continually grow: to seek out new ideas and innovations, to maintain and improve practices that work well, and to critically examine and alter those that do not. In this regard, I have found my experiences as EDUCAUSE Fellow particularly rewarding; through this “nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education through the use of information technology [i],” I was able to find content, to learn best practices, and to learn from experienced practitioners about many new and exciting teaching techniques, a few of which I have mentioned above. I have also met colleagues who are similarly interested and who no doubt will be an invaluable resource for me as I continue to diversify as a teacher. I am committed to the ongoing exchange of ideas within the academic community throughout my career, so as I can continue to grow and excel as a teacher, and thereby benefit Western Kentucky University, my profession, and most importantly, my students.