What’s New in the Classroom

August 24, 2011

In developing their lesson plans, Menlo faculty work to ensure that classes are engaging and relevant, incorporating topical content and leveraging the latest technologies. Here are some highlights from an informal survey of Menlo faculty, conducted last month.

Dr. Marilyn Thomas

This fall, all freshmen will have the opportunity to become dramaturges. Dr. Marilyn Thomas, Dean of Arts & Sciences and Professor of English and Humanities, is debuting an innovative new course, tentatively called The Peer Mentor as Leader. In this course, which will be taught by Dr. Thomas in conjunction with student leaders as peer mentors, students will create and perform plays/video productions that explore an issue of student life, such as roommate conflicts, alcohol abuse, or sexual politics. “Students will be asked to write a script that will illustrate a dilemma and a solution for it,” said Dr. Thomas. In small groups, students will create a compelling video or live production to present to the campus community, and winning presentations will receive prizes.

Dr. Thomas is also revamping her English 101 core class with a new theme called “History Made Personal.” “Students will be sharpening their critical thinking skills by reading history texts—including Devil at My Heels by Louis Zamperini—that deal with issues that lend themselves to debate,” said Dr. Thomas. “I will set up debating teams that will require students to not only deliver speeches to their peers, but write them in coherent, grammatically correct essays. To perform this challenge, they will be asked to conduct research into the issue, considering its historical context and opposing views. Finally, they will be required to defend their positions against an equally prepared opponent.”

Dr. Leslie Sekerka

In the Business Ethics class taught by Dr. Leslie E. Sekerka, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior and the Director of the Ethics in Action Research and Education Center, students will be “deconstructing” the Murdoch scandal, which has dominated news headlines recently. She is also bringing several outside speakers to her class, including Dr. Thomas Plante, TedX speaker and author of Do the Right Thing: Living Ethically in an Unethical World (August 29 and 30, 3:15 p.m.); Jay Mumford, Ethics and Compliance Program Director at Acccenture (October 31, 2:10 p.m.); and Ms. Nancy Higgins, VP & Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer at Bechtel (November 1, 2:10 p.m.). All students are welcome to attend the talks, which will take place in Brawner Hall, Rm. 476.

Dr. Dima Leschchinskii

Experiential learning is part of many courses at Menlo College. For example, Dr. Dima Leschchinskii, Assistant Professor of Finance, is adding a new element to his Introduction to Real Estate course. Students will be going into the field and interviewing professionals, then creating a presentation based on the interviews for the class.

New teaching technologies are also making their way into Menlo classrooms. Many professors, including Dr. Leschchinskii and Dr. Deborah Brown McCabe, Associate Professor of Marketing, are using the software program Camtasia Studio to create “screencasts,” capturing the mouse movements and other screen activity as they describe concepts on the computer screen. These screencasts can be saved as “lectures on the go” for students to replay and review later. Meanwhile, Dr. Melissa Michelson, Professor of Political Science, has implemented audio podcasts of her lectures.