Pedagogy and the Simon Curriculum

By: Crissi

Most know that the Simon School’s methodological approach to business is analytical and economics-based.  This is likely one of the reasons that Simon is considered a premier institution for corporate finance.  Additionally, Simon faculty has founded and continues to edit eight academic journals including: the Journal of Financial Economics, the Journal of Monetary Economics and the Journal of Accounting and Economics.  But what does this imply for someone sitting in a Simon classroom?

I have completed the majority of the core curriculum for the Simon M.B.A., and I can tell you it means something different for each course.  I am continually surprised at how mathematics – whether derivatives from calculus or logical functions in Excel – pops up in every class.  With the exception of finance and accounting which clearly denote calculations in the curriculum, mathematics seems to sneak its way into every other business competency at Simon. 

My educational background is in the humanities and liberal arts.  Many people ask me, ‘how can you manage a mathematics-rich program?’  The answer is simple: the professors are fantastic educators.  The dynamic way professors convey course material – with passion and real-life examples that exemplify the logic of these assertions –means I barely even notice that we are manipulating a production function. 

Math is easier to swallow if you know what the numbers mean before you start calculating.  Return on Equity is a meaningless fraction until you know what inputs are being calculated.  Clear explanation and logical sequencing of material is where Simon professors excel.  By the time the professor starts writing equations on the board, it naturally follows from the discussion at hand. 

‘What if I just don’t get it?’ is another question I hear.  This one has the easiest answer of all: use the resources Simon has placed at your fingertips.  Work is done in teams; ask a teammate for help.  Mathematics heavy courses have Teaching Assistants and Lab sections; email the TA, any one of them will gladly meet with you for as long as needed to help you understand.  The professors at Simon have an open door policy; they want you to understand and will happily take the time to go over topics again and address your specific concerns.

Simon has taught me to embrace mathematics as a crucial tool for business problem solving.  I encourage you to do the same.  Still concerned?  Please contact me, I would be happy to allay your fears: crisandra.harrison@simon.rochester.edu

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