Coping with Transition: From Doctoral Research to Teaching and from Corporate to Entrepreneurial Finance

Article excerpt

CASE DESCRIPTION

The primary subject matter for this case concerns the re-thinking of teaching methods and strategies in shifting from a doctoral research orientation to one of teaching emphasis, and from a typical business school orientation in financial management and business strategy to a more directed approach toward entrepreneurial finance. The case has a difficulty level appropriate for an exercise for business school professors faced with this particular challenge, as well as for PhD graduates coming into an environment where innovative and deeper pedagogical thought is necessary. The case is designed to be used in a seminar setting and should take no more than one hour for a seminar exercise, less if the case is available in advance for reading purposes.

CASE SYNOPSIS

Richard LeMont, a recent graduate of a Midwestern university with a Ph.D degree in Finance with a minor in Strategy/Policy, is faced with teaching a course in entrepreneurial finance at an AACSB-accredited College of Business. His doctoral training, while preparing him to deal with research and typical business school courses, has failed him where the entrepreneurial course is concerned. The reader is tasked with developing solutions to the problems highlighted by his first four weeks of the course.

INSTRUCTORS' NOTES

Suggested Use

This case really combines two different issues. Richard is a typical newly minted Ph.D whose enthusiasm for his topic meets the reality that his students may not share his enthusiasm. He discovers that this generation of 18-20 year olds has a different perspective on college education. Most see college as a degree with each course as a meal that can be eaten quickly to allow them to devote time to go to work to pay for college and their social life. The current generation has been empowered regarding their education through the faculty evaluation system. In some institutions where students learn that they can do significant damage to a professor's reputation and career, there may exist an air of extortion. At institutions where student evaluations are an insignificant part of the formal teaching evaluation process, students are aware that they have been described as "customers" and often behave accordingly. Second, the case deals with the difference in approaches between the typical financial management (corporate finance) course and the entrepreneurial finance course. The two issues are obviously intertwined, and the link created a dynamic situation useful for review by professors and by doctoral students expecting to enter the teaching profession.

This case may be used to explore the difference between pedagogy and andragogy. College students aged between 18 and 21 demand more than a repeat of high school. On the other hand, they lack the depth of life and work experiences effective for adult learners. The challenge for college professors is what teaching strategies they should use to bridge adolescence and more experienced adults. This case offers an opportunity to explore the problems of dealing with college students who are resistant to learning by memorization but lack the experience that are required to make a connection between the substance of what they are learning with the application. Effective teaching at the college level requires that professors use strategies to motivate students. Students need to see value of the material and its application to the real world even when they lack experiences to make a strong connection as to the utility of what they are supposed to learn. This case offers some strategies for professors to consider in helping students experience and learn concurrently.

Within the context of finance, this case offers insight into the substantive differences between the common or business core course in corporate finance and a course in entrepreneurial finance. For a student completing a finance degree who might take an entry level position in a financial institution, the corporate finance course offers an intellectual suitcase of finance skills that a student would encounter in a large organization. …