Note: This is an installment in the Q&A series, reporting in the LDSBC Newsroom on informal meetings held with President and Sister Kusch and members of the College community. During the Q&A sessions, students, faculty and staff are invited to submit questions and engage in conversations with the Kusches about all that’s going on at LDSBC. Check out other Q&A articles here.
Here’s a summary of what transpired in the Q&A breakfast this month:
Question: How has your vision for the College changed since you became president?
Answer by President Kusch: I worked at LDS Business College for about a year under President Richards’ capable direction. During that time, I focused on academics at the College. I received an impression while working in that capacity, that a significant opportunity and challenge for us was how we could serve more students.
Once I received the call to serve as College president, I worked with the President’s Council, Church Educational System leaders and the College Board of Trustees on an updated mission statement with four supporting core themes (available here).
Together, we’ve also articulated three imperatives, or focus areas, for the College:
1) Serve and bless more students on our Salt Lake City campus.
2) Be a hub of educational innovation to educate more deeply and powerfully .
3) Be an integral part of and partner with BYU-Pathway Worldwide.
This vision has developed since April 2017, when I was called to serve as president of LDS Business College.
Q: How can the instructional design team help implement the College mission and three imperatives?
A (Pres. Kusch): Online courses may help us reach more students, but I don’t see it as the primary way we’re going to bless more students. Course modality is independent of our desire to bless and serve more students.
Perhaps the most critical work your team could do is to ensure the courses you touch are compelling; that the content online mirrors classroom content and that everyone is engaged in deep learning.
As a campus, we also need to ensure every course taught here includes outcomes that demonstrate how students can discover, grow and become more self-sufficient and Christ-like. We hope and wish for our graduates to be capable and trusted disciples of Jesus Christ. How can we embed activities and outcomes into every course to help accomplish this ultimate goal? It needs to be more than a spiritual thought and prayer in class.
President Kusch explained an example from a leadership class he was involved with where they studied the account of Captain Moroni in the Book of Mormon. He said the leadership skills taught by a study of Captain Moroni are numerous and profound, and a great way to liken the scriptures to ourselves.
Q: How can students engage in deep learning?
A: Have a sincere desire to improve, to learn all you can and apply it to your life and situation.
The conversation focused on differences some of the students have seen when they’ve compared their experience in class to an online LDSBC class. Everyone agreed the course objectives and activities should be consistent. The group discussed a general rule of thumb for spending two to three hours outside of class for every course credit hour (e.g., a three-credit class should result in six-to-nine hours outside of class each week).
Q: Along the lines of ‘deep learning,’ how do students seek out courses and coursework where they can be agents and not objects?
A: We should always put students in the middle of crafting course experiences and outcomes. Professors may have some ideas, and present the class with guidelines, and then let students define key elements of their course experience — a project, a presentation or other deliverable.
When you receive a syllabus that leaves no room for student engagement in identifying activities, raise your hand in class or talk to your instructor privately and ask for opportunities to help define the types of things you’ll do to demonstrate what you’re learning.
We’re not asking for dramatic shifts, but we do want students to help define how course outcomes are to be demonstrated and measured.
Our professors should be resources and provide inspired direction along the way while the students work and learn. This mirrors the way America works. None of us here report to work and expect a supervisor to detail every few minutes of our day. We plan to receive an assignment and the resources needed to accomplish the task, reporting back along the way for continued guidance.
Again, activities in all LDSBC courses should be consistent, whether students are engaged in face-to-face or online learning.
President Kusch concluded the conversation by thanking the instructional design team for their excellent work and interest in continued improvement while they support the learning environment at the College. Then he encouraged members of the group to email him directly with something they’d like him to know, that they suspect he may not already know.
All students, faculty and staff are invited to submit questions for President and Sister Kusch. Those who have provided questions may be asked to future breakfast or lunch Q&A sessions. If you have questions or feedback about Q&A sessions, please contact the College public affairs team.