Teaching
Michael Lück, Ph.D.

 

Teaching Philosophy  

My teaching profile is shaped by a variety of experiences, both as a student, and as a teacher. I feel privileged for having had the opportunity to teach in four different countries, in two languages, and on all levels, from first year to post graduate papers, to adult education. My teaching philosophy is based on five main pillars: Respect, passion, innovation, challenge, and excellence. All five pillars are seen as equal and mutual, i.e. from the students' and the teacher's perspectives. They are closely linked, and cannot be seen separately.

 

 
Respect
 
I liked the relaxed approach taken by the lecturer. He treated us as people and gave us respect.
(2nd year student, Fall 2001)

I strongly believe that providing a relaxed learning environment is the most effective way of teaching. When the instructor respects students and their opinions, it is very likely that students in return have respect for the instructor. There is no need for an authoritarian teaching style in order to gain respect. In my experience, admitting errors or a gap in knowledge is increasing students' respect, rather than causing a loss of respect. Taking students and their needs and opinions seriously helps to build a healthy relationship, which in turn increases learning and knowledge. Already in the introduction lecture of a new course, I explicitly encourage students to ask questions at any time.

 

Passion  
I am deeply moved by your devotion to your career.
(4th year Honours student, Fall 2003)

 

Passion is arguably the most important ingredient to every good teaching. This can be twofold: Passion for teaching, and passion for the subject area. Students have an intuitive feeling for an instructor's likes and dislikes, and negative vibes sent out by an instructor affect the learning environment to a large extent. Along with the general enthusiasm for teaching goes a passion for the particular subject area. While I am aware that for logistical reasons, and for reasons of programme design, it is not always possible, I strongly believe that instructors should have the opportunity to teach in their special areas of interest as much as departmental structures and policies permit. When I am passionate about a specific area, my teaching improves to a large extent, and students' feedback confirms this.

 

 
Innovation
 
I thought it was an excellent learning experience. Being tourism students, it is always great to learn from professors with different backgrounds.
(2nd year student about a lecture via video conference, Fall 2003)

While I believe that it is vital to have a personal touch in every class, and in-class lectures cannot be replaced by information technology, I equally believe that the rapid development of IT offers an enormous chance for instructors to improve teaching. The use of Powerpoint is a common feature at most universities today. Used sensibly and wisely, it not only offers much more user friendly visuals, but also saves an enormous amount of money and environmental costs for copying overheads and paper handouts. All my lectures are prepared on Powerpoint, and student feedback underlines the usefulness of this tool. In addition, I am trying to include teaching technologies and innovations in class, such as videoconferencing, Internet exercises in PC labs, the Instant Feedback Assessment Technique (IFAT), the Immersive Situation Circuit, to name but a few.

 

Challenge

 
The strength of this course is that it provides a good chance to challenge ourselves.
(2nd year student, Fall 2003)

 

Teaching at tertiary level should not only be the transfer of knowledge. It should also encourage critical thinking and challenge students intellectually. From day one of every paper, I explicitly make sure that students know that they shall not see everything I say as a rule and the only solution. Particularly the tourism industry is constantly changing, and in most cases it is not a matter of right or wrong, but depends on the perspective from which the particular issue is seen. I ask students to challenge me as much as I will challenge them. I also make sure that students know that they will not lose marks because they have a different opinion. On the contrary, I explain that they are likely to receive higher marks, as long as they can justify their thoughts and opinions.

 

 
Excellence
 
It was a wonderfully refreshing class. It was a laid back class that incited lots of discussions on the issues in the tourism industry these days.
(4th year student, Winter 2003)

Teaching is more than providing a lecture. It involves lecturing, interacting, supervising, marking, guiding, and - to a degree - counselling. I believe that as a teacher, in every class I learn as much as my students do. It is my aim to strive for improvements in teaching with every new semester. Student evaluations are a very important tool to achieve this goal. While it is an art to read student evaluations carefully, and disregard irrelevant and personal comments, constructive criticism is invaluable for the improvement of the course in the following year. Students might feel more free to honestly critique a course and an instructor, because the evaluations are anonymous. As an instructor, all too often it is difficult to judge during term what students really think about the course, its content, and the instructor. Student evaluations, as well as unsolicited feedback, give a clearer picture of the students' feelings and needs.

 

Summary  

The above mentioned pillars greatly contribute to teaching excellence, and continuous self-monitoring helps control and improve teaching and the relationship with students. Varied, interactive forms of teaching help to increase the concentration span of students, their interest in the topic and course, and thus the level of learning. My classes commonly include a mix of teaching methods, including classic lectures, discussions, group projects, presentations, guest speaker presentations, video conferences, videos, field trips, and Internet based lectures in PC labs. Outside the classroom, AUTOnline (Blackboard/WebCT) is a tool to provide students with up-to-date information, further readings and additional course material, as well as with vital information for the course.

I endeavour to continuously improve my teaching (inside and outside the classroom), and to provide students with the best possible learning experience. This includes regular lectures, as well as the personal component, such as a relaxed atmosphere and frequent availability outside the classroom, combined with respect for students and innovative teaching methods.

 

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