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Classroom improv: Kyle Maclean receives HBA teaching award

  • Communications
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  • Jul 16, 2018
Classroom improv: Kyle Maclean receives HBA teaching award

There’s nothing better than a professor who makes learning exciting. Who is invested in helping you succeed. Who has a positive impact on both your education, and your life.

For the HBA Class of 2018, that professor is Kyle Maclean.

An assistant professor of management science, Maclean was awarded this year’s David G. Burgoyne Teaching Award for his outstanding impact on the HBA2 graduating class. He received the recognition at the HBA Pledge Ceremony on June 19.

The art of spontaneity

Maclean just wrapped up his first year teaching full time, but it’s not his first year at Ivey – far from it. He graduated from Ivey’s HBA Program in 2012, and stayed at the School to complete his PhD.

For Maclean, what makes Ivey so special is the Case-Method of Learning.

“In a typical lecture, there’s nothing that will surprise you. You’re just speaking off slides. That’s why I enjoy teaching at Ivey,” Maclean said. “It's fun.”

In a case environment, you never actually know what’s going to happen. I enjoy theatre, and to me, case teaching is like improv.” - Assistant Professor Kyle Maclean

In a case class, there’s more opportunity for discussion, and sometimes disagreement. Maclean prefers this environment over a lecture because he wants to show students there are often multiple ways of doing things.

“There’s very rarely just one answer,” he said. “I try to make it so the students control where we go. It’s not a train track where I say ‘We’re definitely going to do it this way.’ Sometimes I teach two sections of a course, and they’ll both go in very different directions.”

Making his mark

Maclean teaches four courses: Revenue Management, Sports and Entertainment Analytics, Data Management in Excel, and End User Modeling.

People can be wary of math and numbers, but Maclean urges his students not to write anything off without giving themselves a chance.

“A lot of people say ‘I just don’t do numbers’ or ‘I’m not good at math.’ What I tell them is nobody is born good at math or analytics. It’s like anything else – you have to work at it,” he said. “It’s really enjoyable seeing that change in students, from saying ‘No, it’s not for me’ to ‘Actually, I can do this.’”

Months after completing a course, students won’t remember everything they learned, Maclean says. He doesn’t fight this. Instead, he tries to show them the bigger picture.

“I think professors can have a larger impact,” Maclean said. “For each one of my courses, I have three general ideas I try to push. By the last class, students are actually using these terms and they’re really thinking at a higher level. They won’t remember any formulas, and that’s fine. I try to give them themes they’ll pick up on and use in the future. That’s the goal.”