University of Wisconsin Stout | Wisconsin's Polytechnic University
Get Your Hands on Your Future
UW-Stout offers innovative, career-focused degrees based on active learning, applied theory and research.
Get Your Hands on Your Future
Mark Fenton joined UW-Stout in 1999. After spending six years as a member of the instructional academic staff, he was hired as a faculty member in 2004. Fenton teaches courses related to business management, including Entrepreneurship, International Business, Principles of Management, and Principles of Marketing “on a pretty regular basis.” He also has taught International Management, Sales Management, Principles of Advertising, and Advanced Psychology of Learning. As member of the graduate faculty, he advises graduate students working on their research requirements.
Mark enjoys all the classes he teaches saying, “Each class has its unique content that can be presented in different ways.” He enjoys Entrepreneurship, a capstone course, because he can see the students bringing in their individual education backgrounds which culminate into the writing of a full business plan. He also enjoys his international courses because in them he can share his experiences and can also explore the students’ experiences in international and cross cultural settings. Mark says that just about every course has an international component.
Fenton helps students “get it” by recognizing that the varied learning styles of the students require him to use a combination of instructional techniques. In order to recognize and respect students’ various learning schemata, Mark employs a facilitated process using “skeleton” presentations. Students download the skeletons form found at Learn@UWStout and complete them during lectures and discussions. Online students use the skeletons and audio files that Mark also creates. In addition, Fenton integrates laptops into his courses. He wishes to facilitate academic and future professional success by teaching integral business techniques including responsible use of the internet and use of software as instructional tools. According to Mark, “These techniques encourage students to think about and apply course applications outside of the academic context.”
Because students will work in collaborative group settings, Fenton has developed a collaborative learning environment in which students are placed into academic success teams. For all assignments, students use a review process to share their work with their teams and the class. As they share and discuss, the sessions become large brainstorming sessions in which multiple concepts can be discussed. “Students have consistently shown throughout their development over the course period that this collaborative approach serves as one of the best tools to meet course objectives.” says Mark.
It is no surprise that Mark’s favorite teaching strategy is to foster a collaborative learning approach. “I like to get students to discuss within their teams and then discuss with the whole class the topics we are currently covering.” Because he sees laptops as another learning tool, he uses various internet-based applications or other web posted content. He finds that sending students various links to contemporary examples of the topics covered in class helps to overcome the 2-3 year lag in textbooks. This approach to keeping current applications/examples in the class helps students to better understand course content.
Mark emphasizes that the student and he must meet the objectives of the course and that if this does not happen, they work to find ways to ensure that the students are able to meet the objectives. By using this approach, called Criterion Referenced Performance Testing, Fenton finds “that I can help some of those that might have slipped through the cracks and earned a lower grade or worse. The “curve” ends up looking like a spike with a small drop off for those who just could not make it through the course for some reason or who never tried.” Mark also calls students to his office to talk about what can be done to improve their work. He finds that showing a sincere interest in his students, what he calls a “coaching” approach, can make a difference for students. Sometimes they come into his office expecting the worst, “but that is not the case, my role is to help them find the best path to meet course objectives.”