This week, I got to interview Dr. George David Shows. He is a professor of marketing at Appalachian State University and came to Chonnam University as a visiting professor for six weeks. Thank you for the interview, Dr. Shows!
How did you end up in Gwangju?
At Appalachian State I received an email from our Graduate coordinator, Dr. Marty Meznar about a possible position available for a professor for teaching a graduate class in Marketing Strategy. I have several colleagues who are South Korean and they have my respect. I was open for either the first or second session, and was asked to teach the first.
Was this your first time teaching abroad?
Yes it was. I have taught Korean and Chinese students and respect the intellect and dedication they bring to class. I was happy to be given the chance to teach in Korea.
How does teaching at Chonnam National University compare to Appalachian State?
Teaching at Appalachian State is done over a 16 week time period. The first session was over a period of 6 weeks. It requires a shorter time frame with more involved classes. Teaching in the United States in graduate classes is also done generally using the Socratic Method. This is where the students read the lessons, and the teachers ask a series of questions to students the lead them to an understanding of the issues. In South Korea, students are trained under the traditional lecture format and it requires the teacher to adjust their teaching method without weakening the lessons taught. Otherwise the curriculum is very much the same.
As far as students, I was impressed with the depth of understanding in my students in the Graduate Business School at Chonnam. I have taught and seen many graduate students and the ones at Chonnam University have all the skills needed. Both the full-time students and the students currently working were dedicated, knowledgeable, and intelligent. They brought strong work skills to the exercises and proved themselves worthy.
What type of adjustments or changes did you have to make for international students?
Right away I realized it was important that language issues must be minimized in order to carry the lessons to my students. The cases required more than the usual amount of setup because the majority of the cases involved an American background. It required me to give more explanation so that students could fully understand the differences culturally and commercially in the United States and the context in which the cases were written. I met with the groups so that I could review their work before they presented their cases.
I also realized that to give a traditional test in a standardized way in English would add the difficulty of first attempting to understand the question and then choose an answer that could be culturally based. I decided to give a take-home test so that the students would not be facing a misunderstanding of the question as well the time difficulty of completing a test in the time required in class.
What I did not adjust was the courseware instructed or the case format. Students were required to give presentations in class (in English) and each student was to present a part of their case study. It is also important for a teacher to move a student out of their “comfort zone” and by challenging them to speak in class, I hoped to stretch their personal limitations and have them extend their experiences. All the students did exceedingly well.
What did you think about Gwangju and the Chonnam National Unviersity’s Campus?
First, the people, which are Chonnam’s great strength. I was very much impressed by everyone at Chonnam National University, both staff and faculty. The leadership has a vision for its students and the future success of Chonnam University and I wish them the very best. The staff and people at Chonnam were very friendly and helpful and they made the job of a visiting professor much easier.
Gwangju is a great town. I found myself on weekends simply walking around, enjoying the unique cultural experience. Wherever I met, people were friendly and patient with my limited Korean. The workers at the various stores were extremely helpful. I had a chance to taste the local cuisine and loved all of it. I went to a Kia Tigers baseball game, loved every minute of it, and purchased two Kia Tigers jerseys, one for myself and one for my son. I’m officially a fan now and keep up with them online.
I am impressed with Chonnam University for their outreach to the community. One of the things of interest to me was the community involvement with the campus. In my personal experience, I do not know of an American campus that shares itself so readily with the local population. Every day the football field was used by teams, and every day families picnicked on the grounds. At night there would be hundreds of people walking the track. During the weekend the campus field would be packed with adults and children enjoying the day. Many schools may talk about their desire for outreach, but Chonnam University shows other schools how successful it can actually be.
Finally, I must give credit to the administrators and faculty at Chonnam University. There is a genuine commitment by them to continue the university as a world-class center of learning. From their outreach to other countries to their work in student placement there is a clearly defined vision that guides all connected to the university towards a common goal of providing superior education to their students and helping them afterwards to be placed in a top company. In short, during my brief time here, I was proud to be counted as a faculty member of Chonnam University.