Meeting the Minds – Talking with Tilly!

Part II

Dr. Tilly Jensen is AU’s Associate Dean of Pedagogy and Student Experience. She is also an Assistant Professor of Accounting at AU and was an Academic Coordinator for AU’s undergraduate Accounting Program, and has taught accounting in the Middle East as well as at NAIT and to students enrolled in the British accounting certification program. She was kind enough to give The Voice Magazine an interview ranging from her advice to online learners to her research interests and philosophies of teaching, to her favourite course to teach.

What is your particular philosophy on student evaluation?
My philosophy on student evaluation stems from the field that I am in, which is accounting. Accounting requires a high degree of technical proficiency, as well as the ability to apply that knowledge and think critically in diverse and continuously changing business scenarios. So on the one hand, students have to demonstrate that they have acquired the technical proficiency, which is often tested in an environment where there is either a right or wrong answer?lots of math and journal entries! Once a student has that technical expertise, they need to take that and learn to work with case studies, where there are degrees of right and wrong, It’s very challenging for students to switch gears but so rewarding from an instructional perspective as students struggle through the process and you see in their writing the growth in understanding of how all the pieces fit and work together ? and what doesn’t fit and work together ? they begin to see that an answer can change given a different perspective and that they need to address as many perspectives as possible.

What pedagogical standpoint is most reflective of your way of teaching?
Constructivism is the pedagogical approach I take. I believe that we construct knowledge through a variety of processes but key to that process is providing the opportunity to question, which is why I think chatting, discussion forums, and, yes, algorithmic web-based assessments are excellent tools. I include web-based assessments as a form of questioning because the specific tool I use provides students with limited feedback on questions that they complete, which forces them to question what they did right and wrong and then go back into the course content to find out what they did wrong and why. So I also believe that helping students develop an independent learning style?where they ask questions of themselves of the content of others?is important to success in courses and in life.

If you had one piece of advice for online learners, what would it be?
To me, online learners require a high degree of self-discipline because of the nature of the independent learning environment. We try to reach out to students to help them feel connected, but ultimately it is the student’s responsibility to get the work done and contact us as often as they need to for any help that is required. So my advice is, make a plan using the custom calendar we provide in some of our courses and, as part of that plan, include regular phone calls or emails to us even if you don’t have any questions. Staying connected will help a student stay on track with their plan. And if ?life happens?, which is often the case, and a student’s original plan requires adjustment, let us help you adjust that plan. Our goal is to help students succeed so reach out to us.

If you could wave a magic wand and improve one thing about online education, what would it be?
I need to do two things. First, I would create a large computer monitor that could fold up into the size of a cell phone and weigh as much. Why? Some course content doesn’t work on a cell phone screen which limits flexibility and access. Also, some individuals, including myself, require a larger screen because of vision issues. Second, I would have dependable high speed internet available absolutely everywhere at a reasonable cost with no need to connect to a wi-fi network, your plan would provide you with high speed wherever you are in the world. I’m not a computer person so don’t know the correct terminology but I’m asking to be able to connect wherever and whenever without having to muck about with guest passwords.

What is your view on interdisciplinary studies?
Interdisciplinary studies are important to helping a person develop and enhance their critical thinking skills. A big part of critical thinking is the ability to see multiple perspectives in a given situation. How can you do this if you don’t go beyond your discipline?

How do you keep abreast of best teaching practices?
I keep abreast of best teaching practices by attending conferences/webinars, talking to colleagues, and reading, reading, reading.

What are some of the challenges and highlights to publishing academic literature?
The single greatest insurmountable challenge for me is time. Do I ignore my teaching duties in lieu of publishing? I can’t. So what suffers is the publishing.

What was your favourite course to teach? Why this particular course?
Introductory financial accounting is my absolute most favourite course to teach because I enjoy taking on the challenge of changing a student’s mind about how much fun it really is. Some students really surprise themselves and end up LOVING accounting. Big win for me!

What were some of your childhood passions?
Wow. I so enjoyed camping, hiking, swimming, baking with my mom (dad just ate the baking!), and family time in general. We had so much fun doing things together. I have fond memories of things like camping holidays where building a fire (or trying to) in the pouring rain or attempting to build a rock dam in a creek were such adventures.

If you could instantly learn one thing in its entirety with no obstacles and no time constraints, what would that one thing be?
Sorry but I have to pick two things. I’ve always wanted to play the piano and speak several languages.