At the Broad College of Business, our faculty constantly evolve their teaching practices to deliver the best possible learning experience for our students. And this work does not go unnoticed.
For four consecutive years, MSU’s AT&T Faculty-Staff Instructional Technology Awards have placed a spotlight on Broad faculty. The awards, presented by MSU Information Technology and AT&T since 2005, drive awareness of pioneering uses of technology in the classroom. Each year, only six are chosen — three winners and three honorable mentions — from a pool of 3,000 instructors across the university.
“Of the 24 awards given out over that time, Broad instructors have won nearly one-third of the total awards,” Jeremy Van Hof, director of learning technology and development, said. Van Hof oversees accessibility, instructional design and pedagogy initiatives for the college, helping faculty embrace new methods in the classroom.
“This speaks to the dedication of the Broad faculty members and to the fact that the culture of excellence we all try to create really is making a difference.”
This year’s winners include fixed-term faculty Antoinette Tessmer and Iskandar Arifin, who teach FI 355: Financial Modeling. The duo adopted a flipped pedagogy style, relying on collaborative, hands-on group activities, transforming the classroom into an Excel learning lab and earning them the best blended course award.
“Participants are expected to ‘work ahead’ of classroom sessions by completing online readings and video sequences at home,” Tessmer said. “Class sessions are then dedicated to group exercises that help participants master some specific material that they learn about at home.”
Tessmer and Arifin took advantage of MSU’s Rooms for Engaged and Active Learning, where students can share their work locally using table monitors. Beyond syncing with technology, time, focus and creativity helped make this classroom innovation a success.
“We strongly believe that originality is key to a successful learning process,” Arifin said. “Participants complete activities, assignments, exams, final projects that are new and have not been used in the classroom in previous semesters. The creative process that participants go through while completing all those activities greatly enhances their ability to model in Excel in the most efficient manner.”
John Spink, fixed-term faculty, was a 2021 honorable mention for SCM 303: Introduction to Supply Chain Management, which was completely redesigned ahead of the 2019–20 year. Considering that this is a required course for all undergraduate business college students and the first required course for SCM majors, the redesign was a big undertaking that would impact roughly 2500 students each year.
“For over 15 years, SCM 303 has been a traditional in-person, lecture-based course. When I came to the department, I was asked to look at the program and see what we needed,” he said. “We took on a backward design, looking at key learning objectives for an introductory course to give a foundation and balance that with application. It’s one thing to get a definition, and it’s another to look at supply chain and understand what’s going on.”
Spink worked with Van Hof to modernize the course, expanding the content base to integrate with upper-level supply chain courses, fostering high student engagement and application along the way.
“John exemplifies how being a reflective practitioner can benefit students,” Van Hof said. “He uses data and gathers student feedback to regularly reevaluate the effectiveness of his course, and he iterates his practices based on that information. He uses technology strategically as a means to implement meaningful learning experiences.”
SCM 303 now provides content that ties back to real-world supply chain issues with an “in the news” learning update and is accessible, featuring videos with captions and podcasts to meet students’ needs.
“We talk a lot about diversity, equity and inclusion, and it’s a big deal to give such a large classroom equal access,” Spink said. “The course was revamped to be asynchronous so students could access the class at any time; this created equity and inclusion.”
Honorable mentions have also gone to fixed-term faculty Rozmina Jaffer for MGT 814: Managing Diversity in the Work Place in 2018 and Aubrey Wigner for BUS 170: Business Model Creation & Prototyping for Entrepreneurs in 2019.
In addition, Michael Thibideau, fixed-term faculty, won the best enhanced award for SCM 479: Strategic Cost Management in 2019, and Judy Whipple, Bowersox-Thull Endowed Professor in Logistics and Supply Chain Management, was an honorable mention for SCM 870: Introduction to Supply Chain Management in 2020.
“The pace of change is fast in business. In education, ‘treading water’ will lead to a slow drowning, so status quo is a myth,” Thibideau said. “If we stop improving a course, we are assuring the course’s (and our own) eventual obsolescence.”
For Thibideau, the emphasis is on diverse, team-based problem solving. He employs simple technologies to support active learning that will translate to real-world application.
“I envision the student a year or two after graduation working in their career,” he said. “What are they doing? What do they need to know to perform their work? What are the hard and soft skills that will help them onboard into their profession successfully? If you can envision that future, you are ready to design your course with the content and activities that will help the student enter their career.”
With an eye always on the horizon, Broad faculty are poised to ensure student success remains at the core of course design for Spartans.
“When you see an example of something that worked, that gives you confidence,” Spink said. “This is not just about the award, but it’s also the support system at MSU and [these enhancements] become common and best practices.”
MSU faculty members who are interested in submitting their course to the 2022 MSU AT&T Awards can apply later this fall via attawards.msu.edu. Additional details will be published as the 2022 submission window approaches.