Student Corner: Student learning and participation

What is WWE World Heavyweight Champion of Jeopardy Review? Creating a sport-oriented approach to student learning and participation

Written by: Farah J. Ishaq, Doctoral student, University of Kansas

As a 2nd year Ph.D. student and graduate teaching assistant (TA) at the University of Kansas, I am grateful for the opportunity to be a full instructor in two sections of sport finance and economics. While this was my first semester teaching, the opportunity was there to create and craft a unique, fun, and engaging course, especially on a topic like finance and economics. This blog post will specifically address my experience teaching, while also illustrating specific initiatives that have worked well to increase overall participation and engagement in my classes.

Overall, as a first-year graduate TA, I was nervous about the thought of teaching two sections of over 80 students in the sport management undergraduate program. While I have never taught a class before, I was prepared with the resources to succeed, including weekly advisor meetings, past course materials, and a supportive cohort. Initially, my biggest struggle was finding a balance between a class size of just 13 students, who meet three times a week, and a class of 70 students, who meet twice a week. However, as the class progressed, I learned that there was an opportunity to provide the same course material while establishing a positive classroom environment through discussion, complimentary audio-visual materials, and participation initiatives.

Ishaq blog 1The single greatest help to me was using my own personal undergraduate experiences to develop positive learning initiatives through resources that I found helpful and engaging during my time. As I am not much older than the students I am teaching, I appreciated the opportunity to apply my own undergraduate experiences to my class. One specific undergraduate experience that stood out to me was the use of participation “certificates” that were handed out during class and allowed for extra credit opportunity at the end of the semester. I decided to adopt a similar strategy by applying a sport-oriented twist to this approach by utilizing baseball cards as an incentive for participation.Baseball cards are handed out during participation opportunities for students who positively contribute to the discussion. The baseball cards are then kept by the student throughout the semester and handed to the instructor during the last week of classes in an envelope with their name on it and ultimately returned for the student to keep. Collecting 20 total baseball cards results in 10 points of extra credit added to their final grade. Needless to say, the students have loved it so far and it has created a way to be more involved in sport finance, which is a class that typically does not have a reputation of being the most interesting to students. The baseball cards only cost six dollars for 500 cards from Amazon and were each signed by me on a little removable sticker in order to control that the cards returned to me were indeed the ones I had handed out.

Ishaq blog 2Furthermore, in an attempt to create motivation to do well and create a sense of competition for my students for an exam review session, I surprised them with an opportunity to win a WWE World Heavyweight Champion belt. Jeopardy review has never been this fun! While the Jeopardy-style review offers a classic way for students to be engaged in friendly group competition, adding a sport-oriented prize created a greater sense of competition among the groups as well as willingness to learn and participate. Although my past experiences in my undergraduate did not play a role in the implementation of this initiative, teaching this course has allowed me to exhibit my own teaching style and play a role in the overall positive classroom environment for my students. While at first, I struggled to find a balance between my classes and was nervous to be responsible for more than 80 students my first semester teaching, this opportunity has allowed me to be creative, while contributing to the overall enjoyment and learning of sport finance and economics.