‘Describe the ideal LSE Accounting Student’
‘I can’t. I don’t think they exist. I don’t want to feed into the obvious stereotyping of students either. But… students who challenge me, I appreciate that.’
Meeting Matt is meeting a man who cares: about his teaching, and about his students, about learning in general
– and about NGOs. He also cares about playing squash. In interview for the LTI LSE Innovators series he’s least comfortable when asked about himself and most comfortable when talking about his students, as he becomes visibly more animated and his smile becomes broader. His laugh is more of a friendly, muted giggle, too.
Without wanting to insult him with the most boring of adjectives, Matt is just really nice.
While doing his PhD at Monash University (Melbourne, Australia), he had to fight to be allowed to complete a Graduate Certificate in Higher Education, because he ‘should have been exempt’. Obviously, to Matt, teaching matters.
About his students, he is at once modest and ambitious, modest about his role as teacher, ambitious for them. He appreciates students who challenge him and his role; his ‘ideal’ student would simply be – and remain – curious. He wants them to do well so that they can do good (all the while realising the difficulty in consolidating competing conceptions of ‘doing good’).
His generous personality is at work in his writing, too: he is balanced but not perfunctory; in his work there is something real at stake. If ideology determines evaluation methods, and evaluation methods determine funding, then identifying ideologies at work matters, because funding matters.
Matt joined the LSE in 2006. He teaches management accounting, control, and performance measurement and focuses his research on the roles that accounting systems play in non-government organisations (NGOs). In 2014/15, after attending an LTI workshop on ‘flipping’, he decided to flip his lecture for AC310.
AC310 Management Accounting, Financial Management and Organisational Control deals with complex and contested issues. What are NGOs, how does one measure their performance, how should their impact be evaluated? These questions are best explored in discussion, which is why Matt understood that the traditional teaching format with a primary focus on lecturing at students needed an overhaul.
The students really appreciated the changed format – we know this because we did an evaluation. In fact, one of the students speculated that making each topic a debate prepared them better to the challenges faced by NGO practitioners and auditors, who face different perspectives on their work and on their underlying ideals. Students appreciated the well-defined discussion questions and the clear and concise video lectures covering key concepts. They were positive on each others’ contributions and seemed keen to learn from each other.
Our evaluation of Matt’s pilot cites two factors instrumental to its success: its well-thought-out structure, and the role of the lecturer in facilitating the discussion, which means it is all Matt’s fault. He cared enough to change his teaching format and he took great care not to do it half-heartedly.
Luckily, all teachers are capable of this, because it is not at all contingent on being ‘really nice’, but only on the notion of caring enough, which arguably is what being a teacher, and indeed being an academic, is all about.
If you want to flip your lectures, get in touch: LTI are here for you.
What Matt Did & Does:
- Matt recorded himself giving a concise introduction to each topic in about 20 minutes using Echo Personal Capture
- He created focused topic guides with relevant readings and set questions to answer.
- He gave clear pre-class instructions: watch the videos, read the articles and answer the guiding questions before class. “Class time will not be used to re-present material that is covered in the on-line lectures.”
- Freed up class time was entirely devoted to discussing the topics at hand: the onus of creating understanding had thus been moved onto students, who greatly benefited and appreciated the change in format.