“One who dares to teach must never cease to learn.”
– John Cotton Dana, 1912
As a first-generation college graduate, I understand the challenges and rewards of academic achievement. The above quote by John Cotton Dana, an American public librarian and founder of the nation’s first business branch, embodies what has become the spirit of my teaching philosophy: a commitment to lifelong learning. My commitment to this process is reflected in the way I approach courses I teach: first, I focus on not only the content of the course but also the process by which students acquire knowledge; second, I integrate technology and skills preparatory for both personal and professional success; third, I promote a class environment that is physically and emotionally safe. These three pillars build the foundational objectives for which my courses are based.
While designing my course, I take my responsibility as a marketing educator seriously. Charged with the important mission to facilitate the learning process, I find it critically important to establish and communicate clear goals and objectives for time spent with students. A comprehensive syllabus and course materials that specifically detail the learning objectives and the tasks to be completed is essential to communicating my expectations. Additionally, the design of my course lays the important foundation on which learning is built. In my classroom, I focus on experiential learning to provide students with meaningful, practical opportunities to build professional and personal skills preparatory for a business career.
In each of my courses, I strive to design practice-oriented experiential learning projects that allow students to work with local businesses or non-profit organizations in the community. I believe this experience facilitates a deeper learning of the course material, allowing students to apply the concepts and topics covered in class to real-world business practices. Often, these projects require students to work together on teams to set objectives, goals, and deliverables. Working on teams allow students to practice and learn new skills, such as building consensus, working through difficult problems, dealing with opposing viewpoints, prioritizing work, and holding themselves and others accountable for deadlines. It also provides students with the opportunity to work with diverse groups of people and build interpersonal communication, time management, and networking skills. I believe these skills are important to develop in students to best prepare them for future careers in business. From homework assignments to class projects, the importance and practice of these skills are reinforced throughout my course. I also appreciate the uniqueness of each student and the knowledge and skills they bring into the classroom. I endeavor to support all of my students in the learning process.
I recognize that my students come from diverse backgrounds and process information differently. My experience teaching at New Mexico State and The University of Akron has made me aware of the many challenges students commonly face. At New Mexico State, I instructed a heterogeneous student population, including underserved populations such as Latinos and Native Americans. For many of my students, English is not their first language. To accommodate students that find it difficult to understand spoken lectures, I often provide written outlines of my lectures online. Visual learners also find these notes useful. Additionally, I record important class lectures and post them online so non-native speakers and auditory learners can listen and replay lectures at their convenience. I try to be sensitive to different learning styles and make an effort to provide multiple modes of content delivery and assessment.
Overall, my courses focus on building critical thinking skills, envisioning innovative solutions, writing professional business communications, and understanding ethics and decision-making. For example, I assign students homework that requires them to write an executive summary as a memo to their manager that provides a well-considered and reasonable recommendation to a strategic marketing question. It is important for students to develop professionally and learn valuable skills that will assist them in building successful business careers. Whenever possible, I encourage my students to think critically and consider outside-the-box solutions. Innovation in ideas and technology are welcome in my classroom.
Marketing has undergone a technological transformation in the past decade. This provides an opportunity to not only discuss new marketing strategies and the global marketplace but also incorporate technology into the classroom. Students find my class to include a broad range of technology, often comprised of videos, mobile device polls, advanced classroom management integration, and online resources. Using this technology increases student engagement in course content, diversifies the mode of delivery, and helps prepare students for a career in the 21st Century. Additionally, I encourage my students to explore the use of technology and adopt tools and resources they find meaningful. The use of technology in the classroom also adds a sense of creativity and relevance, an excellent foundation for creating a professional, yet relaxed classroom.
One of the most important pillars in building a student-focused classroom is promoting a class environment that is inclusive, constructive and based on respect for others and others’ ideas. I have experience teaching at a school with a high proportion of ethnic minorities and first-generation college students. Additionally, my experience serving veterans and adult-learners has helped my better understand the needs of these students. Recognizing the unique needs of these populations is important for me to improve the student experience in my classroom while also focusing on the institution’s goals of student retention and success. My classroom is a place where students can speak freely about their ideas, share their experiences and learn from each other.
Although I focus on the needs of my students, I am mindful of my role and responsibility to lifelong learning. I incorporate my research into my courses and work hard to contribute to the production of marketing knowledge. It is important for me to continuously improve and respond to student assessments of my teaching. Moreover, I am constantly evolving as an educator and regularly seek opportunities for professional development that prepares me to improve my teaching effectiveness. I often attend teaching workshops and seminars to learn new methods and strategies for helping and engaging students. As a passionate marketing educator, I am grateful for the opportunity to facilitate such an empowering and important learning process—after all, we are preparing tomorrow’s business and world leaders!