Creating an environment for classroom success, Part 2

As I stated in my last post, the goal of my web application development class is: To develop sufficient knowledge of web programming and e-commerce concepts to successfully start a career as a web developer.
How can help facilitate success in their careers?  There is the obvious knowledge component, which is a major part of my class.  However, habits and virtues can make or break the long term success of my students.  In this, Rand's ethics provides the perfect basis for developing the habits and virtues necessary.

To be successful, students need to be rational, productive, and proud.  Students must actively try to understand and integrate concepts in a meaningful manner so that they can utilize those ideas later in their career.  Rationality demands a respect for facts and a strict adherence to logic.  Abstract integrative reasoning is necessary to apply knowledge to new situations.  Students must also develop the habit of productiveness, consistently developing their knowledge in order to create web solutions to business problems.   Productiveness is not just about hard work, although hard work can often help.  Productiveness demands a focused effort to produce something of value.  Lastly, students should produce work they are proud of.  The results of their efforts should be something they want to show off - something they are excited they brought into existence - something that shows the best within them. 

Below are some of the things I'm considering in my class to facilitate the adoption of these virtues.  I'm always open to new ideas if you have them.

How can I encourage rationality?
1. Eliminate evaluations that depend on rote learning
2. Encourage abstract integrative reasoning with writing assignments
3. Require application of knowledge to real world situations

How can I encourage productivity?
1. Reward output, not time spent
2. Push them to create increasingly higher valued web solutions
3. Motivate them by keeping reality based and addressing real world problems

How can I encourage pride?
1. Give them a chance to fix their mistakes
2. Reward going above and beyond requirements
3. Do not provide a means for hiding in anonymity

While I could also identify Rand's other virtues of Independence, Justice, Integrity, and Honesty, those are often taken for granted in most classroom environments (I know... not all.  But most).  Those virtues are vitally important to success as well, but not interesting enough for me to write about today.


  1. It may seem I respond to every post, but that's only because I do. :) Anyways, at least I read them!

    As you can guess, I was skeptical after your introductory section, but when you list the real world ways you can accomplish what you outline, it's amazing how closely they align with what "good" teachers do.

    I'm not sure if you had to take any education courses, but I did. And I readily admit to not taking them too seriously (at least some of them). I DID pay attention to the ed psych parts of those classes as I found them interesting and applicable to real world problems. The things you lay out line up perfectly with them. I think you'd specifically be interested in Bloom's taxonomy if you haven't encountered it yet.

  2. I have encountered Bloom's taxonomy. It's fairly descent, but haven't spent a lot of time thinking about it. I have not taken any education courses. What I have learned about pedagogy, I learned on my own.

    As Rand stated, her philosophy is for living in this world. The more I study both her philosophy and the best practices identified in multiple disciplines, the more I see the connections. This is just another example.

    I'm glad you think my blog is worth reading. :)

  3. http://www.ecu.edu/cs-bus/upload/MIS-4153-Course-Description.pdf

    Professor Drake, do you suppose you could incorporate your proposals above as learning outcomes?

  4. Halidryn,
    Am I to take it you are one of my new students?

    I do not think that is necessary. The habits and virtues I discuss above are designed to support the learning outcomes. They are the method - the "how" - not the ends or "what" will be studied.

  5. Prof. Drake, I am not one of your students: I am interested in the design of courses, and the means whereby the "what" of a course description is realized by the "how" implemented by the instructor.

    So I understand that a Course Description leaves the method(s) up to the professional discretion of the instructor, and that it is not required to document these?

  6. No, it is not required to document the methods on the departmental course description. I do document them on my syllabus, though.