As he prepares for his next class, management and marketing associate professor John Newbold closes the textbook and sits back in his chair, thinking on his experience in the real-world industry of marketing.
“I bring a different perspective to the table,” he said. “This allows me to make the classes I teach more dynamic and more hands-on, which I feel helps to inspire and motivate my students to explore the possibilities of the job field.”
Newbold noted that his teaching philosophy is built on-knowing that engaging teaching creates engaged students.
“Excellent teaching is a trans-formative activity that is critical to the quality of the lives of individuals and instrumental to the continued prosperity of communities,” Newbold said. “Each student is unique, representing a wide range of backgrounds and levels of academic preparedness.”
Philosophies like these lend a certain quality to the faculty of Sam Houston State University, said Frank Fair, professor of philosophy, coordinator of the philosophy program and the former Excellence in Teaching committee chair.
Newbold earned Sam Houston State University’s prestigious “Faculty Excellence in Teaching” award for 2012. But he is among 315 faculty—more than half who teach at SHSU—who were nominated by at least one student for this award.
“It seems to me that when you have this many faculty being nominated as the best, you have concrete evidence to the continuing commitment this university makes to providing the best quality education for its students, ” Fair said.
Nominations are now being accepted for the 2013 “Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award.” Students, faculty and alumni can nominate their favorite professor online, through SamWeb or at http://shsu.edu/faculty_staff/excellence-in-teaching/, through Feb. 24.
Newbold said that while he is honored to receive the award, when he reflects on what kinds of colleagues he has even in his own hallway, it is a testament to the kind of university that SHSU is.
“I think most of the people who win this award would feel this way,” Newbold said. “There is a great culture of teaching, in this department, and in every other department, and I feel very lucky to be chosen out of all of them.”
Newbold’s teaching style is built on his marketing experience in industry. Newbold earned his bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University, his master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati, and his doctorate in marketing from St. Louis University. Before coming to Sam Houston in 2001, he worked for Anheuser-Busch Cos., Compaq Computers and a Internet bank CompuBank.
“I got my Ph.D. while I was still working in the industry because a lot of times that can be helpful to the job,” Newbold said. “After I had retired from my job at the Internet bank, I was at my son’s soccer game and I started talking to Jo Duffy, a professor in the marketing and management department. Her son was also on the team, and she mentioned a job at SHSU. When I got it, I knew I had always wanted to teach at some point, but I thought I would do it for a few years at the most. And now here I am, 12 years later.”
Within the department, Newbold has developed several key marketing classes for graduates and undergraduates, adapted several basic marketing classes to online versions, and led summer field classes in Costa Rica.
In the classroom, Newbold said he is constantly trying to engage his students in a spirit of enthusiasm for the field they are learning about, to help them see that this class is a glimpse into real-life possibilities.
“I try to help students who might not know what they want to do and guide them in figuring out where they want to go,” Newbold said. “I sometimes digress in class about concepts and different types of careers, especially in marketing, and getting into the practical experience in addition to the theoretical aspect of the curriculum. I want them to not just become more knowledgeable but also excited and to start doing the thinking on their own.
“I love the energy and curiosity of college students. I know I am doing a good job when I see their enthusiasm. That’s my purpose as a professor.”
He said that one of the things that really helped shaped his teaching philosophy was learning how to effectively teach online classes.
“Teaching online classes forced me to re-evaluate and rethink my methods of teaching,” Newbold said. “When I first started teaching, I probably saw my job as being a channel by which the information from the textbook was learned: take the book, read it, teach it to the students, use a PowerPoint. It works, but it’s very basic, and I found myself frustrated with how sometimes my students didn't seem like they were trying very hard.
“When I started teaching online classes, I realized I had to make up for not being in the classroom, so I introduced online interactive activities and flashcards and things like that for all my classes; not just the online ones. This freed my class time to focus on harder concepts and key topics but also more experiential things. My students responded enthusiastically, and my classes grew to be more dynamic because of learning how to teach online. Overall, it has made me a better teacher.”
One student mentioned that Newbold’s use of creative and engaging activity in the classroom—including hands-on projects and experiments such as hypothetically running the hot dog stand at SHSU sporting events—helped them understand the concepts better and how they fit into the business world.
“Dr. Newbold is a wonderful instructor with fresh ideas and a really relatable, real world, hands-on approach to teaching. He weaves funny and engaging stories from experiences as a former market research exec into every lecture, which keeps his students on the edge of their seats,” the student said. “Beyond being a great lecturer, he is also a true champion for his students.”
An important part of his teaching philosophy is to encourage his students to explore the field and skills, ideas or abilities they might be able to use in a future job, something he said he has consistently worked on over the years.
“I am always trying to learn something new. For instance, I am taking Chinese classes right now because I read about how the Chinese economy was growing so fast,” Newbold said. “I don’t know that I’ll ever have the opportunity to use that skill, but I might someday. I’ve always tried to think that way in my jobs in marketing and as a professor—how can I learn from what someone else is doing to do my job better?
“And I encourage my students to do that too. We are always students of the world, long after an actual education has been earned.”
His students commented genuinely and eagerly through their nominations for the teaching award, “he deserves to be recognized for the effort he has put into teaching.”
“Dr. Newbold takes the time to present the information in a fun, easy-to-understand way,” another student said. “He listens to students when they ask questions or are unclear. Dr. Newbold also uses his past work experience to relate the material to our demographics. He puts a lot of effort into his classes. He encouraged me to pursue a marketing major.”
Fair, a recipient of the award in 1989, said the purpose of the “Excellence in Teaching Award” is to highlight those who are doing just that—encouraging growth and learning, beyond the expectations of their educational job description.
“Since I arrived at SHSU in 1971, I have worked hard at my primary job—teaching in the classroom—and it was a great feeling to be honored in this way by my students and my faculty colleagues,” Fair said. “So I know what receiving the award can mean to a faculty member. As I see it, teaching is still our primary job here at SHSU, and the university's “Excellence in Teaching” award reaffirms and honors that commitment.”
To express their gratitude to each professor who was nominated for the award, the committee contacted every single faculty member who had been nominated, as Fair said, “just to let them know that someone truly valued the classroom experience they had been provided. We thought that it never hurts to let people who are working hard to do a good job that their efforts have been sincerely appreciated.”
This award is a true reflection of the kind of educational partnerships happening between the professor and student, Fair said.
Not only does this award serve to emphasize that important job, but it also reveals “how committed SHSU faculty are to their teaching,” said Bala Maniam, current Excellence in Teaching committee chair and professor of finance.
“This award is very important, in that it identifies the best teacher at SHSU each year,” Maniam said. “But this award does more than that; it also shows how committed SHSU faculty are to their teaching. Through my work with the committee, I get to see first-hand some of the best teachers at SHSU in action. They are committed to excellence in teaching.”