Teaching: Take Two

Teaching the consumer class again is a different exprience. A much better understanding of the purpose of the course and the shortcomings of the textbook led me to make quite a few changes. Students this semester are getting a new and improved version of the course.

The class is smaller this semester. Instead of 48 students, I only have 26. Fewer students makes a huge difference. With four assignments, four exams, and a final, grading takes about 90 minutes per student over the course of the semester.

Last semester, I devoted a full lecture to every chapter in the text and covered every term and concept. Focusing on the most important stuff this year has cut so much content in some cases, I ended up combining two or three chapters into one lecture.

Fedback from last semester’s students led me to double the time I spend on three topics they identified as most important (mortgages, insurance, and investing). I also added a few new topics I felt were missing from the mix and rearranged the order in which they are presented.

The publisher-provided PowerPoint presentations I was so glad to see last semester turned out to be less than helpful. After half my students bombed the first test, I started making my own PowerPoints. Students welcomed the change and did better on subsequent exams.

Though a big improvement over the publisher’s, my PowerPoints last semester were text only. I didn’t have time to hand them over to my secretary to pretty up and I didn’t know how to do it myself. This year, I found quick and easy ways to add relevant graphics resulting in vastly superior presenations to those I used last semester.

The changes have made a difference. The first exam was nearly identical to the exam everyone bombed last year. Half the class aced the test this time. A few got Cs and the rest were Bs. I’m tickled pink.

I know what good teaching looks like and I’m not there yet. Getting better is a process. So far, my focus has been nailing down what to teach. Once I get that all figured out, I’ll work on improving the way I teach. I’ll keep you posted.