Learning keeps us young. This is the philosophy I keep in mind every day that I go to work. I do not just go to teach, but also to learn from my colleagues as well as my students. After all, teaching and learning go hand in hand.
It is a fact that most faculty members (besides those who studied education) did not get formal training in teaching methods and techniques (At least when I went to school!). I try constantly to learn how to improve my teaching and to become a more effective professor by reading journals, attending seminars, talking to my peers, etc. I believe there are no good or bad instructors, some professors are just more effective than the others. So, teachers should continuously search for innovative ways to improve their delivery methods & provide a conducive learning environment for the students.
I have taught a variety of students in different programs. They include full-time day students who are usually inexperienced and young, continuing education students who are mostly working adults, and graduate students who are usually full-time professionals. Although I have very rigorous standards, my courses are popular with the students and I have a reputation of being a fair professor.
I have been instructing different subjects which require completely different teaching styles. For example, on the one hand, International Business is basically a straight-forward lecture course with minimal amount of student involvement. On the other hand, International Management & Export/ Import Management require a large degree of student participation.
I lecture my students on how to become better writers & presenters. The students study and analyze real businesses in groups and as individuals. They prepare written reports & make oral presentations to the whole class. This case study approach will make them ready to successfully enter the real business world. They also evaluate each other's performance. As a result, my students learn how to effectively communicate with each other, as well as with outsiders, in written and oral formats.
I require my students to read the assigned material before coming to class. I tell them in the first session of each term that we are going to discuss the topics in class. By lecturing in question/answer format, I make my students think, comprehend, analyze, and respond to major issues being discussed.
I try to make the best use of audio-visual equipment and computer technology. I prepare transparencies and slides of my lecture outlines, charts, figures, etc. I have a good collection of video tapes which I use in addition to those that are available at the College and other libraries. I also invite guest speakers and take my students on field trips.
In international business courses, I devote about 5 to 10 minutes in the beginning of each class to what I call "What's Up?" The students and myself bring current business news in reference to the topic of discussion to class. The students receive points toward the class participation portion of their grades when they bring news of importance and value. I also encourage my students to subscribe to different business periodicals and magazines or to read them in the library or online. I always use outside material to augment and update the text. In my Export/Import Management class I don’t use any textbook. Instead, I use many handouts and my own material that I have developed through the years. In spite of the fact that it is very difficult and time consuming to teach a course without a text book, I have had very good results and feedback from my students.
I am quite familiar with teaching under different conditions, from traditional 15 week classes to intensive one week, all day, to weekend courses. I have taught in different countries with diverse traditions and have taken our students abroad to gain exposure to other cultures and ways of doing business.
I have been utilizing modern techniques and different, effective delivery methods such as Blackboard, Web CT, and Canvas in my classes. I also have taught online for several semesters.
Dr. Massoud Farahbakhsh
Salem State University
Bertolon School of Business