With end-of-term demands looming and cherished non-classroom hours for research and writing beckoning them, 60 Florida International University College of Business faculty members made time to gather for an event that promised to bring new insights and inspiration to the profession of university teaching.
And that is exactly what the Second Annual South Florida Teaching and Leadership Excellence Conference, held March 31, 2017, accomplished. It featured an interactive session with Harvard Business School Professor Joshua D. Margolis; presentations by COB faculty, including Chris Ellis, instructor in the Department of Information Systems and Business Analytics; and Department of Management and International Business’s Senior Lecturer David Wernick and Instructor Sungu Armagan.
Organizing the COB-sponsored event, held at the MANGO building, was Wendy Gelman, university instructor in the School of Accounting. “It was a huge success,” she said. “I look forward to the conference – it energizes and engages the faculty, and rejuvenates us for the upcoming year.”
The conference idea emerged several years ago during a faculty meeting, Gelman said. When a professor mused over the need for teaching seminars, School of Accounting Director and Senior Associate Dean Ruth Ann Mc Ewen urged faculty to go ahead and get it off the ground.
“There is a tremendous need,” Gelman said. Successful professors must not only research but reach and engage students. “If we do a great job teaching, our graduates will be more prepared, knowledgeable,” and attractive to employers, she said.
Panels for learning.
The morning session with Margolis involved a case study that questioned whether a company, when hiring an intern, should take into account the favorable relationship one qualified candidate had with a high government official. The group was split into teams, and each had to argue one of three positions.
The afternoon presentations focused on how to engage students and keep them energized. Of note was Ellis’ talk about using the Rubik’s Cube to draw out the passion of students in a class that has garnered college-wide renown. Armagan discussed how workplace happiness factors into the curriculum, while Wernick highlighted lessons learned from memorable courses.
The final segment was a panel discussion, where employers, an accounting student and online learning experts joined professors in a discussion about adapting teaching methods to the up-and-coming generations, accustomed to instant feedback and information.
“The beauty of the panel is that we had faculty, technology consultants, prospective employers, and students all debating the art of teaching, how to improve it, and the need for faculty buy-in,” Gelman said.
If this year is any indication, the enthusiasm will guarantee a repeat event next year.