June 22nd, 2010

The World of Pedagogical Knowledge


I had a great experience last week: I attended the Organizational Behavior Teaching Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is the annual meeting of an organization that supports college teaching for those within the management field. A number of our professional associations (most often in the large disciplines) have separate organizations or subgroups within the association that are focused on teaching and learning. Does your field have such an organization? If so, I would encourage you to consider attending events hosted by the group. There is such energy generated when folks who care about teaching convene to explore issues and share ideas.

The program was rich, with lots of concurrent sessions that featured many sharing activities that can be used to engage and involve students in learning. I think that might be one of the hallmarks of management educators—they are completely on board with using activities to demonstrate the ideas and concepts they are trying to teach students. Many of the activities they use are fairly involved—like building teamwork by putting students in groups, having the group members hold hands and then move so that they tie a knot in the group, or live case studies in which students interact with business practitioners to diagnose problems and develop solutions.

Despite the prevalence of sessions focusing on these kinds of activities, I was struck by how much teachers have to learn from and with each other These participants share a discipline but so many of the instructional issues over which they deliberate are ones of concern to all faculty: how to get students involved and engaged, what to do about classroom management issues, the role of technology in learning, and how to manage the grading tasks efficiently, for example.

This association publishes a fine journal, the Journal of Management Education, which is a benefit of membership in the organization. It has been one of my favorites for years, and participants at the conference do know their journal. The same cannot be said in regard to pedagogical literature beyond the field (and I don’t suspect these folks are any different from those in other similar associations). In one session I attended, a participant highly recommended the well-known and widely read book by Ken Bain, What the Best College Teachers Do. Most in the room had never heard of the book.

We need to support wonderful organizations like this. Faculty do have much to learn from colleagues within their disciplines, but I continue to advocate for learning that goes beyond our disciplinary boundaries. There is great pedagogical knowledge in all our fields, and it is relevant to instructional practice in many fields.