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August 05, 2008

Syllabi

Posted by Gordon Smith

With a new edition comes a new syllabus. I have posted my new syllabus for the Fall 2008 semester in the sidebar. For the first time, I am attempting to teach the entire course in three credits. We offer other "advanced" courses for students interested in corporate and securities law, including Corporate Finance and Securities Regulation, so I am omitting the last three chapters of the casebook from this course, even though they are among my favorites.

You will notice a number of fairly unconventional teaching techniques described in the syllabus. Over the past year, I have been working with the BYU Center for Teaching and Learning to re-design my courses in hopes of making them more engaging to the students. While I have always received good evaluation scores, I am now focused more on the amount of learning that happens during the course than on the "final grade" that I receive from the students.

Instead of speaking to students in a Socratic dialogue, I require the students to work in teams, both inside and outside of class. Instead of banning laptops, I encourage the students to use them in class for learning activities. Instead of lecturing to PowerPoint slides at the beginning of each class, I am moving the lectures online. Instead of plowing through cases line by line, we will be applying cases to new situations. This is all very different from the way that I learned in law school, but I am hopeful about achieving good results. Feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss any of these teaching methods.

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Comments

Gordon, I applaud you for working to build your classes around active learning techniques. I have found Harvard Business School materials on teaching with the case method to be invaluable in offering specific suggestions for creating an engaged classroom. One note of caution: My stepfather is a fantastic professor who gets the highest teaching evaluations year after year in accounting and finance (imagine that challenge). Even he finds, though, that the first year he tries something new the students resist. They have clear expectations about what is "normal," and anything out of the ordinary produces excess grumbling. By the second year, it's the new normal. So stick with it! Your newly (semi)blogging co-author, Cindy

Posted by: Cynthia Williams | Aug 6, 2008 10:33:12 AM

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