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Showing posts from May, 2010

Are You a Teacher or Are You a Mentor?

When I first started working in a college classroom in 1971, it struck me that some members of the faculty were teachers and others were mentors. A teacher is a person who walks into a classroom and helps students learn to understand material. Some of the people I encountered were good teachers and others were not so good. The only criterion for excellence, though, was how much the students learned by the end of the semester.

A mentor was certainly a teacher but, in addition, the mentor was a little bit more. I checked on the Internet just now and found the term “mentor” defined as a trusted guide or advisor. Yeah, I have known a few of those also over the past 39 years. In fact, some of the best mentors that I have seen were not particularly good teachers. It is a different talent. However, it is a way that a faculty member can have a genuine and long lasting effect on the life of a student.

Teacher or mentor?

It seems to me that you can divide college faculty members i…

How Do You Radically Improve Education?

I am giving a 75-minute presentation next week to about 60-70 college educators. I am going to talk about the evolution of textbooks (as I see it) over the next few years.

When I give a speech or presentation, I like to send out a note to the participants in advance to help get them involved in the topic even before I start. It is not always possible but, if it can be worked out, they tend to walk into the program with some thoughts already rattling around in their heads which helps in getting them involved in the conversation.

So, here is the note that I sent out to the participants in next week’s conference. I share it with you because it talks about some of my feelings about college textbooks.

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I am writing this note to the participants in the June 4 Virginia Educators’ Symposium at the VSCPA in Richmond. My name is Joe Hoyle and I am on the faculty at the Robins School of Business here at the University of Richmond. More importantly, I will be the opening speaker at the E…

What Did You Learn?

A friend of mine (Steve Markoff who is on the faculty of Montclair State) shared with me an interesting exercise that he does on the final exam for his courses. He asks the students to complete the following sentence anonymously: “During the semester, I learned…”

He then has another person gather this information into a Word file that he emails back to his students.

There are several things that I like about this idea.

First, it forces all of the students to reflect on the semester and make an evaluation. “What did I learn that is worth putting down?” I think every class could benefit from more student reflection and evaluation. We convey information to them and they convey it back to us, possibly without ever thinking of why they are doing that and what thy are gaining from the process. We often end the semester with a final examination that asks “can you apply LIFO?” or “do you know how to compute interest expense?” without any general query about what was actually lear…

What Is The Purpose of a Final Examination?

Why do you give a final exam to your classes? What do you hope to accomplish? I have talked with lots of professors over the years and their strategies for giving final examinations seem to vary significantly from one to the next:
--It is a comprehensive examination on the material from the entire semester with a major grade component.
--It is a one-hour test on just the material since the last hourly exam with no added weight in comparison to other tests.
--It is basically ignored; it is the work for the entire semester that is more important than what a person can do on one day at the end of the semester.
--It is a little harder than a one-hour test but students can only improve their grades and cannot hurt them.

I do know that as I walk through our building during final exams that most students seem to leave well before the three-hour time limit is reached. I am not sure that many final exams are still three hours in length.

I have always been interested in the final exam…

Request for Assistance

If you teach financial accounting, I have a request for you. A friend of mine recently gave me a list of articles (from newspapers, journals, and the like) that he uses in teaching financial accounting. I thought it might be interesting to create a more complete reading list of articles about financial accounting or the topics within financial accounting that I could post for teachers in connection with the new Financial Accounting textbook that I recently wrote with CJ Skender. I am always looking for creative/innovative things to add to "the package" to make the learning process better for teachers and students both. Consequently, if any of you who read this blog have articles that you use in teaching financial accounting or know of articles that might apply, could you send them to me? Just a list of the publication and date would be fine - I can dig them up from there. Just send me a note at Jhoyle@richmond.edu.

Likewise, if you've ever thought "I wish a …

Making Summer Count

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about how much knowledge students lose over the summer time. Although he is looking at younger students, the amount is incredible. For some reason, we seem to hold the philosophy that summer time is a “no brain” time where students should do as little as possible that might stimulate their thinking. I’m not sure that is a very good idea.

Consequently, last week, I sent an email message to the 37 students who will be in my Financial Accounting courses next fall. (I will also be teaching one section of Intermediate Accounting II.)

I wanted to get the students’ attention.
I wanted to start convincing them that Financial Accounting was going to be challenging but very much worth that challenge.

Most importantly, I wanted them to have the opportunity to make use of their summer vacation to get ready for next fall. Why not? What is wrong with wanting to learn more? I don’t accept the premise that my students want to learn as little a…