Friday, February 24, 2012

The Joy of Learning With Students

It's been such a long time since I taught my first college class. That first lecture was given in August 1985 to a Principles of Marketing class at Oklahoma State University. For someone who had graduated from a small, private university, it was intimidating to lead a typical OSU business class with over 200 students. I felt very inadequate and was convinced my new career was over before it started when I realized that the daughter of the Governor of Oklahoma was one of my students. Certainly, she was with her Dad on the weekends complaining about that graduate student teaching her marketing class!

Somehow I managed to get through that first semester without a call from the Governor. Eventually, I discovered that I loved to teach and had a God-given talent for it. This semester, I'm teaching my first class at LETU and rediscovering the joy of learning with students. It's been a joy interacting with our fantastic students in a new way.

The Marketing Research class I'm leading this semester has nothing in common with that 1985 class at Oklahoma State. I have 23 students this term rather than over 200. In that first course, I focused on being an effective lecturer and exam writer. Now, I see myself much more as a facilitator or learning coach. Most of the learning in the course happens in the context of a marketing research project being designed and implemented for Texas Bank & Trust. As is the great historical strength of an LETU education, it is a hands-on class of learning by doing. Perhaps in 1985, students needed me to serve up facts. Students today have phones in their pockets that can serve up the facts. What they lack is the experience in using the information. That learning experience is what I can orchestrate.

The student groups presented their research proposals to Texas Bank & Trust marketing executives Wednesday, and each of the four groups that presented were impressive! With the feedback they received at the bank, they will complete their research in the remaining weeks of the term. With a few lectures and much more coaching, I am enjoying teaching these students much more than I enjoyed that first intimidating class so long ago.