Thursday, 19 January 2012

First week of classes

The first week of lectures is complete, and I have a couple observations. First, the single most common feedback from students was that they liked the level of interactivity in the sessions. Obviously, it differs across courses, but that seems to be a generally positive outcome.

There are students who prefer not to participate at all, and others who expressed concerns about cold-calling. I understand those, although there appears to be a fairly clear difference in expectations between Europe and the U.S. at Business Schools. In the courses I taught in the U.S., American students expected cold-calling, whether they liked it or not. I taught a strategic management course that had a small group of Italian students along with the majority of Americans, and the Italians were very resistant to the idea of cold-calling. It was, in fact, quite frustrating, because although the Italian students were clearly extremely intelligent, they also were, on the whole, much less prepared for class each day (ie, they were less likely to have done the readings than the American students). This is, of course, only a single example, so I've no idea how indicative it is of broader trends.

I was also surprised by feedback from students stating that they preferred not to give feedback. After all, it's totally anonymous (post-it notes on a board), and it seems to me that students only have something to gain and nothing to lose by expressing their opinion. It's a small minority of students, but I surprised to see an example from each of my classes. I'll delve into that some other time, I suppose.

I'm also generally pleased, so far, with the Google Sites I've set up to manage course content and interaction with students. Over the weekend I'll take a look at the page visit statistics to see what is going on. One small indication that the sites are getting used is simply the fact that prior to January 1st, this particular blog had received about 35 page views, almost certainly most of them mine. But in the past 2 weeks, it's gotten 500 views, almost all of them within 48 hours of notifying the students that their courses would be hosted on Google Sites (that have links to this blog).

In any case, there remains much to be done, and hopefully a positive and learning-centered term still to come.

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