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Diane Bischak

Submitted by admin on Mon, 2008/02/11 - 2:45pm.
  • Faculty: Haskayne School of Business

Teaching Awards

Great teachers foster safe learning environments. How do you create a positive climate for learning?

I mostly teach MBA courses that are quantitative and require analytical skills; students learn how to use data to make business decisions. I include a number of business case studies, which provide a "practice studio" where students can use the tools taught in the course to make decisions when confronted with incomplete information and uncertainty. I think of a business case discussion as an opportunity to improvise, sort of like a jazz session. I set up an atmosphere where it is clear that students are free to challenge me on points that I make. This then carries over to addressing and challenging other students. Once a discussion begins, it's not clear where it will end up, and getting there is a journey into the material, with students coming up with perceptive insights along the way. Like a jazz session, if it's to be a positive experience, a case discussion must have direction and structure. And it must be acknowledged that, as in a jazz session, not every contribution is of equal value; the learning environment shouldn't be so safe that it's not clear to students that there are bad answers as well as good ones.