ANSON: CONSULTANT APPROACH ENCOURAGES STUDENT INNOVATION
Textbooks and coursework can teach budding programmers to write code. But they won’t teach them how to work through detailed negotiations with clients, how to recognize nuanced differences between projects, or a whole host of other skills that will help them succeed in the workplace.
Boise State business professor Rob Anson uses an innovative approach to bridge the gap. “There are things that just don’t come from a book and knowledge that is difficult to impart in a full classroom,” he said.“If I can model processes and behaviors for my students, they can learn so much more.”
As a doctoral student, Anson first learned about “cognitive apprenticeship,” the theory that people best learn to think by observing others more skilled than themselves think and act out loud through a situation. He’s been using it ever since.
In his capstone class for information technology majors, Anson acts as consultant for teams of students who do everything from system development to cost benefit analysis for real clients. He believes in the mentoring concept so strongly that he and his wife moved into the business residential college for a year where they could interact with students outside of class. He also advises and supervises students.
When Vincent Lukasavich returned to school for a second degree, Anson helped him understand the information technology field and what types of jobs it might help him attain. Now a senior, Lukasavich works under Anson as a peer adviser to other students. “Dr. Anson has a wealth of knowledge in the field and I’ve often sought his advice,” Lukasavich said. “His demeanor and personality are really open, and he takes a genuine interest in students.” The relationships he’s built with students are equally rewarding for Anson. “Most faculty crave seeing that spark, that moment when the student grasps something. It’s why we are drawn to teaching in the first place,” he said. “When you work with a student one-on-one, you see it.”
This article was written by Sherry Squires and appears in the Boise State University’s Research Magazine Explore.