Showcase Interview

Urs discusses a range of teaching strategies.

Urs Haltinner

Faculty Profile
Email Address

Teaching Strategy Video(s)
Facilitating the Aha Moment with Applied Learning
Flexibility of Applied Learning: Allowing Instructor Creativity

Urs Haltinner has been teaching at UW-Stout since spring of 1999. He teaches a range of marketing and business education courses as well as Foundations of Education and Career, Technical Education Principles, and work-based learning strategies courses. One of his favorite courses is Cooperative Occupational Education. This course is a work-based learning/teaching strategies course; in it, Urs teaches teachers how to coordinate school-based and work-based learning in a manner that maximizes student learning within a career cluster. He enjoys the class because it is part of the experiential learning paradigm and “brilliantly extends learning beyond the class room walls and the virtual world.”

Urs helps students “get it” by using a range of strategies. He tells stories and he intentionally links the stories back to what students already know. An example of this would be to use student prior knowledge of what happens when they step on a throttle to accelerate their car and show how that is similar to proportionally increasing a promotional budget to advance demand for a product within the market place. His courses tend to be project based in an effort to connect the learner through a context. Urs is a fan of “wait time,” a strategy of purposeful silence in which he gives students permission to be quiet and think before they answer. In addition, he incorporates real world aspects into all his courses.

His favorite teaching strategy relates to narrative. He tells stories, often bringing in objects (a box of baking soda, a toy tractor, a soda bottle) that allow him to create examples that turn abstract concepts into something meaningful. Haltinner says, “Beginning a lesson with an object that appears to have no connection to the learning at hand allows me to set anticipation high. A Starbucks coffee cup can tie nicely into a conversational lesson about product/service development, environmental sustainability, distribution, pricing, promotion, engineering, design, risk-management, etc. As a teacher educator it can help me explain a principle, process, or procedure.” The critical element is anticipation, students wondering just how and why the object is present. The lesson advances through a story that connects the object to the lesson objective. Finally, the lesson’s summary creates the “aha” effect. It helps the learner understand how the coffee cup links to the day’s learning achievement. Using a strategy like this can help the learners to make durable connections because it forces them to think outside of the theory, the book, and the lecture. As curious beings we humans are naturally inclined to find new pathways to knowing and doing things better, more efficiently, and faster. Objects are a great way to get the synapses firing.”

Urs has innovated with technology. He has a tablet PC which he uses to allow him to go “old school” with PowerPoint. He sees this approach as a way to “shake up the generic PowerPoint look. You would be surprised how interested students become when they can count on odd or novel ways of presenting the content visually. Handwritten Power Point sides are attention grabbers.”

And for the future? “I am currently excited about using the SmartBoard and moving myself to using a Mac with its bells and whistles like GarageBand—who knows what one could do with that?”