Teaching

PDF:  Teaching dossier

Teaching at Dalhousie University

  • COMM 1010 Global business (first-year core; winter 2021; 5.00)
  • COMM 4351 Competitive strategy (fourth-year core; fall 2018; 4.64)
  • COMM 4352 Strategic management (fourth-year core; winters 2016-2021; 4.93)
  • BUSI 6005 Strategy implementation (second-year core; winters 2018-2021; 4.88)
  • BUSI 6914 How to get ahead: Social capital (elective; winter 2021; 4.89)
  • BUSI 6994 Leading in complexity (executive education; fall 2021; nr)
  • BUSI 6997 Leading change (executive education; fall 2021; nr)
  • MGMT 6735 Public Service leadership (executive education; summer 2021; nr)

Teaching statement

My approach to management education is founded on two premises: (1) that the overarching goal is to prepare selected individuals for future leadership roles and responsibilities in a complex and ambiguous environment; and (2) that to be most effective, I must both engage and challenge my students. To these ends, I require my students to be self-reflective, to respect a diversity of backgrounds and opinions, and to contribute with mutual respect.

The courses that I have developed and instructed are designed to foster self-directed inquiry such that the educational process did not end upon graduation — becoming an effective leader is a life-long endeavour. I present students with the theoretical underpinnings for a subject (e.g., strategy), and challenge them to apply a combination of theory and previous experience to solve complex problems in diverse group settings. My teaching philosophy is rooted in extensive instructor and leadership experience:

Course development and delivery

I currently teach strategy implementation to BComm (COMM 4352) and MBA (BUSI 6005) students at the Rowe School of Business.  The courses are case-based and feature an eight-month strategy consulting project with a real-world firm.  In January 2021, I launched an elective for MBA students (BUSI 6914) to teach the benefits of understanding one’s social capital for personal and business success.

For six years I was the lead instructor for the development and delivery of three executive education courses for senior military officers (ranks of Major to Brigadier-General) from all branches of service, various NATO nations, and other allies (note 1). Through a combination of lectures, seminar discussions, case studies, and simulations, the students learned to analyze and synthesize data, formulate and implement strategic courses of action, and assess their degree of success.

Exercise Strategic Bridge

A two-week intensive set of lectures and seminar discussions, followed by a case-study of military strategic resource planning, for the students of the National Security Studies Program (NSSP) for Colonels and Brigadier-Generals, and civilian equivalents (Master of Defence Studies — Executive MBA equivalent). For curriculum development, it was my responsibility to develop teaching points from the senior officer educational standards and the NSSP goals, learning objectives and outcomes, and to incorporate approved revisions from previous course critiques. For curriculum delivery, it was my responsibility to locate and engage subject-matter experts to deliver portions of the course, and to personally prepare and deliver a number of related classroom sessions. To confirm the students’ learning I developed and oversaw the two-day cap-stone case study that followed the classroom lectures and seminar discussions.

Exercise Final/Friendly Lance and Exercise Unified Warrior/Enforcer

A number of two-week intensive simulations (“exercises”) of military strategic planning, which included both the confirmation of military strategy teachings from earlier in the program, and an introduction to the theory of formal strategic staff planning. There were two events per academic year for two different programs: the Joint Command and Staff Program (JCSP) for Majors and Lieutenant-Colonels, and the Advanced Military Studies Program (AMSP) for Colonels and Brigadier-Generals (both programs are Master of Defence Studies — MBA equivalent). It was my responsibility to develop the simulation scenario document, to engage subject matter experts (usually 30 individuals), to deliver portions of the simulation setup, to oversee the two-week “exercise” periods, and to develop and implement revisions based upon course critiques.

Field Study – Europe

A 10-day “staff ride” (note 2) to Canadian battlefields in North-West Europe, and NATO and EU headquarters. This planned learning event recreated significant historical events while engaging participants in open reflection and discussion (Becker & Burke, 2014). The Field Study included upwards of 130 students and staff from the Joint Command and Staff Program (JCSP) (Master of Defence Studies — MBA equivalent). I was responsible for all aspects of the planning and execution of the trip. In terms of the educational content, I liaised with the various headquarters to ensure lectures would meet the teaching objectives, and I engaged historians to provide and deliver consistent battlefield lectures and case studies.

Navigator instructor

As a navigator standards and training officer on 415 (MP) Squadron, I was responsible for the training progression of the Squadron’s navigators (akin to undergraduate education); this involved developing individualized training plans, monitoring progress, and intervening when progress was slow. I conducted annual “check-rides” and prepared annual exams to confirm that each navigator’s performance was above the minimum required standard. I also developed training plans to address any short-comings. I found my instruction was most effective when I was able to tailor training events to the individual learning style of the navigator “in the seat.”

Teaching Assistant (TA)

I have been asked by Professor Bill McEvily to be a teaching assistant throughout the academic year 2014-2015. Professor McEvily teaches the MBA courses: Strategic Change and Implementation (two sections), and Leveraging Strategic Networks (one section).

MBA student

I have a deep appreciation for what it means to be an MBA student. My area of concentration was Strategy and Organizations, which is now the focus of my PhD research and represents my main teaching interests. I attended MBA courses in both a semester and intensive format, and experienced case studies and a considerable amount of group work. As a result, I have my own observations and opinions regarding instructor effectiveness — effective professors respect the experience of MBA students and facilitate lively debate around teaching points. Similarly, a professor’s ability to convey ideas is enhanced through preparation, clarity of presentation, the use of a variety of teaching aids, and a willingness to be available outside of class (through a number of means).

In summary, education is not a one-time classroom event — it must be ongoing. This sentiment is especially relevant for a subject as inherently uncertain as management, and for the continued development of future leaders. I explore and expand upon this idea through my research by seeking to understand the ways in which ideas are generated and flow among individuals. The crux of my research and teaching is the identification and removal of interpersonal boundaries to knowledge transfer, and the development of a consensus of purpose to improve both educational and organizational effectiveness.

Notes:

(1)  The Canadian Forces College pedagogy is based upon Bloom’s Taxonomy. My teaching occurred at the latter stages of Bloom’s Cognitive (levels of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation), Affective (levels of organizing and characterizing), and Psychomotor Domains (levels of adaptation and origination).

(2)  For a discussion of the relevance of staff rides for management education, see Becker and Burke, Instructional staff rides for management learning and education, Academy of Management Learning and Education (under review).

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