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.

Student Corner: An international student experience

From London to London: My experience as an international student in Canada

Written by: Swarali Patil, MA Candidate, Western University

My journey as a graduate student is unlike my peers. I was born in India. I grew up near Mumbai (Bombay) before moving to New York. This was followed by a move to the United Kingdom for my undergraduate degree, and a year each in Malaysia and the Philippines. Presently I’m a second-year master’s student in Canada. Here are some of my tidbits as I navigate my journey in graduate school as an international student.

Choosing a School – Graduate school can be daunting, and with the incredible choices available, how can you choose the school that’s right for you? Research! I spent almost a year researching schools online, spoke to my lecturers at Coventry University, and contacted various schools before making my choice. It is a time consuming task but if you plan to spend two or more years taking on rigorous academic work, you should be well prepared to do it. The NASSM website is a great source of sport management programs available in North America. Identify the schools and programs that appeal to you, make a list of potential supervisors and read some of their work, contact the department for additional information about funding and other pertinent details before making your choice.

Choosing Classes – Your classes are meant to help you gain a deeper understanding of concepts you’ve previously learned, and introduce you to some new ones. Your classes can be a fantastic means to meet your fellow graduates, learn about interesting research happening in your department or faculty, participate in an exchange of ideas with your peers, and work on projects that can help you hone your presentation and writing skills. Classes are also a great medium to explore your interests that may lead to a potential thesis topic. Choose wisely but don’t overburden yourself.


Professional Development – Take advantage of every opportunity presented to you, whether it is volunteering, attending conferences, presenting at symposiums, or being a teaching or research assistant. I have volunteered at conferences on campus, presented at symposiums run by different faculties, participated in 2-minute and 5-minute presentation contests, and more. I have also been a teaching and research assistant, which has helped me add to my repertoire of skills and experiences for my CV.

Teaching and Learning – If your school has a Teaching and Learning Resource Centre, utilize their workshops to add to your knowledge base. Most programs will also provide a certificate of completion. Grab every opportunity you can to augment your CV. I’ve found several workshops to be incredibly helpful, particularly when I was a first-time TA. Several workshops provide video recordings of your presentations, which can be a great tool to showcase yourself to a potential employer.

Swarali at SCRINetwork – If you attend conferences or volunteer at social events on campus, take the time to meet faculty and students from different universities. This can lead to interesting contacts, friends in new cities, collaborations and other opportunities. Conferences are also a great way to discuss your research interests with experts in the field. Register early, utilize the student rate, and plan your schedule with ample time to socialize.

Appreciate and Have Fun – Take the time to appreciate where you are. Appreciate different perspectives, new experiences, new friends, new food, and new places. Graduate school provides unique opportunities, which can not only help you identify your future avenues but also provide a sense of accomplishment. Yes, time management is key, and work-life balance needs to be achieved but there is a feel-good factor in accomplishing what you have set out to do.

Graduate school is incredibly daunting and time consuming but it can also be very satisfying. As an international student, whether you plan to stay in your new city for a long while or move back home, you can enjoy the journey and the discovery. I have found my first year to be quite different from my expectations but I’m happier for it. I’m moving full steam ahead in year 2 but deciding if I want to sign up for 4 more!