Teaching in focus: Richard Price
Learn more about the work of our educators at UBC
15 May, 2023
Year I started working at UBC:
What first motivated you to become an educator?
Even though I had many teachers in my family, I never thought of myself as being a teacher when I started my Ph.D. I knew from being a teaching assistant that I could enjoy it, but I was not a natural. In my first job as a professor, I took a fantastic year-long program on how to be an effective teacher. I’ve been hooked ever since on providing the most impactful learning experiences for students.
Tell us more about your work.
The new course grew out of a weekend workshop piloted by alumni. It addresses the gap between the skills that students gain in our courses and what they are asked to do in a variety of professions, so students are more competitive for jobs. It exposes students to professions for which they may not think they have good qualifications. Our alumni give them practice with the professional skills they want to see in job applicants.
What inspired your particular approach to teaching?
It is a response to a student’s perennial question: what do I do now with my degree? I needed a better answer than “work for the government or an NGO”! I invited our alumni to run sessions based on: 1) what skills they would have wanted to get out of their degree that would have better prepared them for jobs; and 2) what skills they wish our students had so you would hire them.
What have you learned while teaching that has surprised you the most?
The creativity and ability of students to deliver new things under pressure. In one session, an alumnus familiarizes students with the digital marketing landscape, then tasks them to develop a digital marketing campaign in an hour. What some students have come up with is astonishing – incredibly creative, attention-catching, and professional. Also how uncomfortable many students are with such tasks without lots of guidance which we have them do anyway as alumni say that practice in figuring things out themselves is needed!
What impact do you hope to have on your students?
We hope students get a better sense of the wide variety of different jobs for which they might have applicable skills, how to articulate that, what to work on themselves, and develop additional skills which make them more hire-able. So now when they apply for a job, they can ‘talk the talk’ about it knowledgeably (speak the language of, say digital marketing), and say that they’ve actually had some experience in doing this or that.
Are there any colleagues or mentors you’d like to acknowledge and why?
As an undergrad, one of my professors (Leijniks) connected me to a government internship that became my first professional job. I’ve always wanted to provide such connections and opportunities for my students and our alumni are keen. I’m grateful to alumni behind developing this course from the start and who participate heavily each year – Greg Eidsness and Henry Han – and the other inspiring alumni and UBC staff who have generously lent their time.
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