Reshaping the Learning Environment: Faculty Voice
For Broad College faculty, the teaching environment (as in, the physical spaces) is a game-changer for classroom instruction and how students transform into business leaders of tomorrow.
For Paulette Stenzel, the Business Pavilion is a long time coming. “I believe very much that the Broad College is a ‘learning community,’” she said.
“I’ve always been frustrated by standing in front of a class and the students in rows in front of me. It’s as if a professor is supposed to be the ‘fountain of knowledge.’ While I’ve studied and traveled more than my students, they bring things to the classroom that I cannot,” she said.
For 35 years, Stenzel has taught some of Broad’s most hands-on, engaging classes for both undergraduates and master’s students, including International Business Law and Sustainability, Business Law and Ethics, and International Business Law.
For many of those years, she hasn’t been able to teach how she has wanted: in spaces that could be changed for large group conversations, guest speakers, and team projects.
“When my students can sit in a circle, it reinforces my approach: you read the materials, and I will present some materials; but for the most part, it is discussion and bringing out additional points of view to build into the materials they’ve read and educated themselves upon,” she said.
Stenzel reinforces how the “flipped classroom” concept is something critical for students to become independent thinkers in her classes. Currently, she teaches at night in order to have a classroom space that allows for group discussion.
“Instead of students coming in to be fed knowledge, they come in ready to discuss what they’ve read ... it allows for students to hear each other’s voices and perspectives in ways that they would not if they were seated in rows,” she explained.
Learning this type of idea-sharing, collaboration, and team work is critical as business students begin their careers. “That’s what business is all about: hearing each other’s perspectives and understanding that more than one opinion can inform a group, and that it can bring them to more knowledgeable decisions,” she said.
Whether in the classrooms today, or in careers of tomorrow, the Pavilion will make a tremendous impact on the way faculty shape business leaders of tomorrow.
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