Opinion, Berkeley Blogs

What I put in - my time, energy, enthusiasm, and research - is what I get out of my students

By Teck-Hua Ho

My pricing class at the Haas School of Business is an elective for MBA students -- it's a subject I find intellectually fascinating and within which I conduct research. It is a joy to be able to teach my own research to bright Berkeley students whose questions often probe me to think deeper about the subject and provide new research ideas. My vision is to have students leave the class with the ability to think strategically about pricing and with the practical tools they need for their future careers. I also want to make learning fun so that students love the subject and see its relevance in practice. To achieve these goals, I design the class such that it consists of interactive lectures, company case studies, computer role-playing simulations, in-class experiments, and outside guest speakers.

My teaching philosophy is four-fold. Each class session always follows a clear and organized structure. At the beginning of class, students are told what they will learn that day; in the middle of class, they'll know where they are in the lesson; and at the end of class, I include an ending punch-line slide to recap the key lessons of the day, so that every class has clear takeaways. Second, I also make sure that the class environment is interactive and lively -- I ask questions of my students and encourage them to ask questions as well. I use a "Lucky Star" system where at the beginning of class, I randomly select and post names of eight students on the board. These eight students will be called on to discuss the material throughout that one class. All students have to be ready on any day for their names to be on the board. Third, I strongly believe difficult concepts are easier if they are made more concrete - therefore I always include real life examples of the theories that I teach. I want the students to see the relevance of the material they are learning. Fourth, the role playing with the computer simulations are key to the curriculum, since once the students graduate, they will be put in decision-making situations at their jobs. I want them to get the experience of what it's like when they're presented with a pricing issue and learn ways to solve them.

My experiences of teaching this class have been very gratifying as I learn a lot too, from my students. I find that what I put in (my time in and out of class, energy, enthusiasm, and research), is what I get out of these students. I enjoy making a difference in their lives.

Editor's note: Teck-Hua Ho received UC Berkeley's 2010 Distinguished Teaching Award.