When educators had to abruptly adapt their teaching styles to work on virtual or online platforms during the pandemic, they also had to find new ways to engage students and inspire learning. Education is now at a critical juncture as efforts turn to assessing how to carry forward some of these innovations and reimagining how education can better meet the needs of both students and educators.
Four Ivey professors – Tiffany Bayley, Kyle Maclean, Karen MacMillan, and Mazi Raz – are among the 14 recently appointed teaching scholars at Western University who are leading the institution on its teaching innovation journey. In addition to continuing their own research on methods to enhance student learning, they will help to develop and assess new teaching initiatives and mentor and support their colleagues in moving forward with new teaching tools and approaches.
Teaching innovation across campus
The teaching scholars’ work will complement what’s done through Western’s Faculty of Education and Centre for Teaching and Learning. Ivey’s group will also work with the John F. Wood Centre for Innovation in Business Learning to develop effective ways to teach business to future leaders. One of the goals of the Ivey Next strategy is to leverage new teaching approaches and technologies to deliver a more connected, effective, and engaged experience for both learners and faculty as well as inspire lifelong learning.
“There are central units, but every field and every discipline might require its own context,” said Raz, noting that together Ivey’s teaching scholars bring expertise from three separate disciplines. “These positions were created to bring that overlap between the strong understanding of a discipline that we have in our respective fields and then also to look at ways to advance the pedagogy of teaching. It’s not one or the other, it’s both at the same time.”
The teaching scholars will do individual research in their own fields as well as initiate cross-faculty discussions or even collective research. Here’s a look at the Ivey teaching scholars’ research interests and what the role means to them.
Tiffany Bayley, PhD ’18 (University of Waterloo)
Tiffany Bayley is an assistant professor of Management Science and the 2021-2022 David G. Burgoyne Teaching Award recipient
Tiffany Bayley has long been experimenting with different techniques and formats, such as gaming elements and blended learning, to make her courses more engaging for students. She has already seen how creative exercises, such as story-building games, can help students to better understand complex and technically difficult analytics material. As a teaching scholar, she’s assessing what types of interventions help students to be successful. One of her recent research projects evaluates how teaching and learning innovations from the pandemic might evolve.
“We’re trying to learn from practitioners what we can do going forward. Do we throw everything out and go back to how it was when we were in person, or do we learn from this experience and see what kinds of institutional supports are necessary to keep this up?,” she said. “We can’t do it if there isn’t an investment from faculty in terms of time, and investments of money to put some resources in place.”
Bayley also hopes to learn what’s working well for other educators and introduce their techniques and strategies to the teaching community at Western.
“We can learn from each other and demonstrate some of the things that have worked well in class so we can see how to implement them effectively in different classrooms, if they fit,” she said.
The tools and techniques that we showcase won’t be something that you have to use to be successful, it’s more about understanding that there are different things you can try so let’s work together to make it successful.”
– Tiffany Bayley
Kyle Maclean, HBA ’12, PhD ’17
Kyle Maclean is an assistant professor of Management Science and the 2017-2018 David G. Burgoyne Teaching Award recipient
Kyle Maclean can imagine students entering a fictional world where they can manage a sports team throughout a semester to complement their learnings in the classroom on the optimization of a player line-up. His research interests in teaching innovation involve the use of online interactions and online simulations in the classroom. Maclean teaches sports and entertainment analytics among his Management Science courses and can see the potential for longer-term online simulations to enhance classroom material.
“A lot of simulations are done in an hour so I’m interested in what can be done over an entire course so the simulation is corresponding to what we’re doing in class over a longer timespan, not just in these smaller chunks,” he said.
Maclean said he’s investigating how courses and Ivey Publishing cases can be structured as simulations.
He has also been focused on how existing online interaction tools can be used in the Ivey classroom. At a recent workshop for Ivey faculty, Maclean demonstrated how Perusall, a collaborative e-book reader that allows students and faculty to comment on assigned reading material in a social media style, might enhance case discussions. Maclean said Perusall is similar to a discussion board, but more seamless because students can see what others are saying as they read the material.
As a teaching scholar, Maclean is eager to explore further how online tools can enrich the classroom experience.
“We’re all interested in teaching innovation and developing interesting curriculum materials. We always were, but now this label better reflects what we do."
– Kyle Maclean
Karen MacMillan, PhD ’13
Karen MacMillan is an assistant professor of Organizational Behaviour
Karen MacMillan is focused on ways to engage everyone in learning as well as new ways to share research with students. For her Leading People and Organizations course, she challenged her students to make a game out of learning and sharing the findings of a research article and saw that it was a powerful way to learn.
“I think we need to do more of this so research doesn’t sit unread. We can get it out to our students through different teaching methods,” she said.
MacMillan is particularly excited as a teaching scholar to share other educators’ best practices to create a better experience for both students and faculty members.
“I don’t think we do enough to leverage the knowledge that’s out there to make this the most it can be for everyone … We need to share this knowledge, not only because it helps students and changes the world, but because it’s going to make our jobs so much better,” she said.
By finding ways to make teaching easier and fostering a sense of community, MacMillan said she hopes to infuse joy and purpose into teaching.
I think teaching is an opportunity to bring joy into your own life and to change the world. We have an opportunity at Ivey to change the world because we have hundreds of future leaders coming through our programs – what an influence we can have.”
– Karen MacMillan
Mazi Raz, MBA ’05, PhD ’14
Mazi Raz is an assistant professor of Strategy and the 2021 recipient of The Mark Vandenbosch Excellence in AMBA Teaching Award
As a teaching scholar, Mazi Raz is specifically exploring what can be done to better help students to develop metacognitive skills, such as critical thinking, creative thinking, and systems thinking.
Since strategy involves creatively thinking beyond what already exists in terms of tools and techniques, Raz also sees a chance to figure out what’s next. Raz said tools typically have one of two attributes: they’re cool (new and trendy) or hot (everyone is using them). For decades, educators might have relied on existing hot and cool teaching tools, but Raz said it’s important to figure out what new ways of thinking are necessary, and not just what are hot and cool tools or forthcoming. For instance, Raz said virtual reality is a cool and an emerging technology in classrooms – but its effect on managerial creativity and imagination needs to be carefully assessed.
“The work we are doing right now really prepares us for and gives us guidelines as to how to make sense of the new world coming our way,” he said.
Raz said it’s important to consider the consequences of using each tool and technique, such as the potential for gamification to reinforce the competitive nature of society.
He embraces the teaching scholar role as an opportunity to figure out what’s happening in society and also how to mindfully incorporate those learnings.
What really excites me is that the School has given us the opportunity to slow down and really look at these things with purpose and with meaning and to consider that what we’re doing is important and also has a ripple effect in society."
– Mazi Raz