Podcast Episode 16: Teaching in a Business School with Olav Sorenson

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Business schools have a reputation for demanding students and high quality teaching. On this episode of the Teach Better Podcast, Professor Olav Sorenson from the Yale School of Management (SOM) tells us what actually happens over there. Along the way, he explains his own almost technology-free teaching style, as well as how SOM recently reformed its core MBA curriculum.

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Show Notes

0:00 Intro

0:39 Introductions. Are b-schools idyllic?

1:40 B-schools are different. There are specific challenges to professional education. Job-hunting starts in the first semester.

4:33 “What do I do after I leave this MBA program?” B-school students are demanding of teachers, and b-schools want to be responsive.

8:14 Is the student a “customer”? It’s more a matter of constituents: current students, potential employers, and alumni

11:15 How do you tell students about the job market? Poets and Quants is not enough.

13:22 Debt and financial aid for Yale’s b-school. Social entrepreneurship and non-profit careers for b-school grads.

15:30 Choosing b-schools vs. undergrads choosing colleges based on amenities, not teaching.

18:22 How can we evaluate teaching across institutions? Are student evals valid?

21:54 The thin slice in the literature on teaching: a 30-second slice of video can predict teacher evals. Could body language alone make you a better teacher?

25:46 Students know what’s wrong but not how to fix it.

26:18 Directing the Yale School of Management’s core curriculum. Every curriculum contains entropy: Someone needs to be in charge to prevent drift into chaos.

30:16 The virtues of classroom visits and co-teaching: for everyone teaching in the core. What IS Yale SOM’s core curriclum?

33:40 The first step in curriculum revision: gather information. Weekly focus groups. One big takeaway from talking to students: scheduling causes unforeseen consequences such as huge workloads.

40:31 Can an observer say what’s wrong and how to fix it?

43:15 Where is the space where students reflect and connect across courses?

46:06 A team-taught course with multiple stakeholder perspectives. Team-teaching as an opportunity for faculty development.

47:26 Teaching WITHOUT technology. Going cold turkey. Starting with a short introduction, using the Socratic method–and getting your best teaching evals ever. Avoiding ‘slide creep.’

53:00 How prepared do you have to be? When you know the teaching method well the preparation starts to matter much less.

58:33 Some “abysmal” teaching mistakes: l-o-n-g class meetings during dinnertime.

1:00:03 Another teaching failure: Using the 1905 Studebaker as a business case.

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