Nash Milic (Nebojša A. Milić)

Teaching - Philosophy, Experience and Evaluations

 

 

Teaching Philosophy

 

Whenever I embark on a new journey, I tend to remind myself that my meta-philosophical stance is produced from two, superficially incongruent yet compatible philosophical statements:

“Who is wise? He who learns from all!” 1

“What does not kill me, makes me stronger” 2

 In my opinion, the first statement informs the reader that if someone is to become truly wise, he or she should learn from all: from all people, all sources and all positions. The second statement is a prelude for constant self-improvement through emerging challenges. I strongly believe that these two principles can produce wonderful results whenever they are harmoniously utilized.

Since I wish nothing short of wonderful for my students, I strive to implement my principles into my everyday teaching. In order to do that, I stipulated a set of approaches, stances and goals that I intend to share with you in the following paragraphs. As a teacher of information systems, I am aware that my discipline lies in a fuzzy intersection of natural and social sciences. If students are to successfully navigate through that intersection, they should be comfortable to use critical thinking.

Thus, fostering critical thinking skills is a crucial goal of my teaching. More specifically, I do not put critical thinking on a pedestal, and just for the sake of noting it. On the contrary, I am advocating for creative construction and critical deconstruction. In other words, I want to empower my students to be able to think about creative and diverse solutions to the problem and later to use their creativity to sketch solutions in, what Einstein called, a Gedankenexperiment3 – a comprehensive process of simulating inner works of a real world phenomena mentally. When that creative solution is finalized, I proceed to help my students to use their critical thinking to deconstruct their existing solutions to “stress test” its components. Thus, I hold that a broad base of knowledge in information systems, economics, management and computer science advances towards this end, but understanding alone is not sufficient to produce well rounded students. Yes, students should learn from all, but students should also be aware that knowledge is an amorphous and dynamic social construct. In order to truly master the intricacies of my discipline, I believe that students should adopt broad and tested base knowledge.

Furthermore, students should also grow awareness that their knowledge is just a mere seed that will soon grow in different directions: just as seeds develop roots and leaves, I strive to make my students aware of the need to constantly grow and renew their knowledge in a dualistic manner. This dualism should, ideally, encompass a corpus of practical knowledge (e.g. leaves in a rich treetop) and a firm and up-to-date understanding of theoretical concepts (e.g. deep roots to ground the tree).

However, the implementation of my principles is neither easy nor a streamlined task. Thus, I tend to employ custom tailored methods to foster the growth of “roots and leaves” in my students. According to my teaching experience, a broad base is best instilled in students through socially constructed knowledge, where students observe the important concepts from different angles and share their opinions until an adequate and mutually shared understanding is reached. On the other hand, growth of the “leaves” begs for a different technique, and this is where my second principle surfaces: baptism of fire under controlled circumstances.

To be more specific, I want my students to learn that the world outside the doors of the university is not an idyllic place, filled with rainbows and ponies. On the contrary, when my students leave their classrooms, they will face a world that is full of opportunities, yet a world that can sometimes be ruthless and unforgiving. In order to help them grow into a position of fuller preparedness, I want them to undergo a set of challenging and initially stressful situations in a known and controlled (i.e. classroom) environment. This method will hopefully train the students to handle real-life scenarios better and to learn their strengths and weakness through self- reflection.

Naturally, in order to monitor and communicate students’ success, some form of evaluation has to be implemented. My stance on evaluation mechanisms relies heavily on relational evaluation (i.e. student in comparison to the class) and on unannounced chances for students to prove their mastery of the subject. By using this system, I hope to bridge the gap between necessary grading rigor and much sought flexibility. Additionally, I believe this system could encourage students to be in touch with the covered materials throughout the semester and thus prevent dangerous epidemics of one-night cramming.

In summary, my teaching philosophy revolves around synthesis of diverse yet compatible approaches in combination with healthy cooperation and self improvement from the both sides of the lectern. I believe students are the center of the classroom and I perceive myself as a guide that will excite them to endure extreme pressure and challenges in order to finish their coursework as the diamonds they truly are.

text
 
References:
1) Talmud - Avot 4:1
2) “Twilight of the Idols” Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
3) You can read more about Gedankenexperiment here and here.
 

text

Teaching Experience

During my PhD studies I have taught 24 credit hours, 8 sections and 3 different courses. The courses I have taught are the the following:

Spring 2017 - Management Information Systems, 2 sections, Undergraduate MIS Course
This course examines the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in organizational settings and gives a perspective of MIS from the standpoint of the non-technical manager. Topics include acquisition, management, use and control of information systems and their impact on individuals, organizations and society. Emphasis is on the business manager's role in developing and managing information systems and the uses of ICT to create competitive advantages.

Spring 2016 – Data Visualization, 1 section, Graduate/Undergraduate MIS Course
This course covers basic theories of cognition and data visualization, including understanding how data types influence the decision to use a particular representation, when to us various chart types, how to structure data visualizations, and visualization evaluation.
Please note: The Teacher of Record for this course was Dr. John Tripp. I helped him to teach this course by creating assignments and by giving lectures.


Fall 2015 – Introduction to Information Technology and Processing, 2 sections, Undergraduate MIS Course
A first-level computer course covering business management tools for using the personal computer in the modern business workplace. Emphasis is placed on using the computer as a problem-solving tool, using software such as spreadsheets and database development/manipulation. Other topics include the use of the Internet as a research tool, issues of security, privacy and ethics in networks, and development of web pages. I had taught this course as an independent Teacher of Record.

Fall 2014 – 2 sections, Undergraduate MIS Course
(Same as FALL 2015)

Spring 2014 – 1 section, Undergraduate MIS Course
(Same as FALL 2015)


text





Student Evaluations

Please feel free to download the summary of my student evaluations here.

Professional development

Seminars For Excellence in Teaching (5)
Provided by Baylor University Academy for Teaching and Learning