Teacher Training Program

Case Teaching Assessment

Whether you are already a Socratic teacher or merely thinking about becoming one, this assessment will explore:

  1. Your motivations for Socratic teaching
  2. Your leadership traits
  3. How you naturally would approach a case teaching dilemma
  4. Your teaching style
  5. And your natural affinity to the case method of teaching

The quiz takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. Acton Foundation staff scores your essay and open-ended responses and email your results within five business days. It's free, there's no obligation and your results are confidential.

Contact Information

Full Name:
Email Address:
Do you currently teach?

Part 1 - Essay

In approximately 150 words or less, answer the following questions:

  1. Why do you want to become a teacher?
  2. What do you think you will do well as a teacher?
  3. What concerns you the most about teaching?

Part II - Leadership Traits

Many of your traits as a leader will translate into your teaching style. For each of the following leadership situations please indicate your degree of comfort.

1. I generally have a clear plan and know what each person needs to do to accomplish it.
2. I tend to ask open ended questions and allow others to make their own decisions, even if I disagree and errors might be costly, because I believe people need to learn from their own struggles and mistakes.
3. I generally know what needs to be done and by demonstrating "best practices" can improve the performance of others.
4. I spend most of my time in meetings listening to others and only occasionally ask a question.
5. I can reinforce the lessons I provide for others by telling stories and anecdotes from my own experience.
6. I like to challenge others by giving them difficult assignments, holding them accountable for their commitments and letting them learn by doing.
7. I can answer employee's questions directly and in ways that satisfy their desire for knowledge.

Part III - A Case Teaching Dilemma

A Case Teaching Dilemma

You are in the fourth week of the fourteen-week Entrepreneurial Journey course. It's your first time ever teaching a case course, and it's not going as well as you'd hoped.

You believe that you have upheld your end of the learning contract: Using name cards, you learned each student's name and background before the first class meeting. You have prepared thoroughly for each class. You have asked clear questions requiring students to make decisions. You have gently but firmly pressed for conciseness, specificity and evidence.

For some reason, the class is particularly frustrated with "the numbers." Despite clear notes on the subject, half the class seems to not understand the basics of free cash flow projections and valuation.

You're thirty minutes into class, and Janet Smith, an African-American student and one of the youngest and quietest members of the class, has just taken ten minutes to work through a confusing (and incorrect) free cash flow projection on the board. You sympathize with Janet and admire the courage you imagine it took this undergraduate history major to respond to a complex analytical question.

You have just asked Janet a follow-up question. She looks panicked. During the long silence that follows, two students raise their hands. Bob Jones is articulate, aggressive, and analytical. He interned at Morgan Stanley, and you know that his cash flow model will be correct. Yamado Hanako has never before spoken in class.

Just then, the classroom door opens, and in walks Tom Peters, one of your most troublesome students. Tardiness is a direct violation of the class contract, and this is Tom's second offence. According to the class contract, unless Tom had a legitimate emergency, he will have to drop the course.

What should you do next?

Rate each of the actions below on the following scale:

5 - I would definitely do this.
4 - I would likely try this.
3 - I could go either way with this suggestion.
2 - I would probably not try this.
1 - I would definitely not do this.

Write a sentence or two to explain your rating.

1. Stop class and ask Tom Peters why he is late. Restate the class contract and ask Tom to leave the room.
2. Ignore Tom's violation. Wait for Janet Smith to answer.
3. Ignore Tom's violation. Call on Yamado Hanako.
4. Ignore Tom's violation. Call on Bob Jones.
5. Stop class, call a "case timeout," and give a mini-lecture on free cash flow, being careful not to give the solution to the problem on the board.
6. Walk through a solution of the free cash flow problem on the board.
7. Handout an answer key to the problem after class so students can check their work.
8. Call a "case timeout." Admit that you are frustrated. Ask the class what is wrong and make clear that it is their responsibility to fix the problem.
9. Offer to schedule a help session.
10. Offer to schedule as many help sessions as the class needs.
11. Resolve to visit study groups before the next few classes.
12. Ask your TA to visit study groups before the next few classes.
13. Ask a colleague to observe your class and provide feedback on your teaching.
14. Stop class and tell a personal story about how much trouble you have had with the numbers, even though you have been CEO of several successful companies.
15. Stop class and tell a funny story about a time you made a mistake on a free cash flow, but the acquisition turned out to be a home run.
16. Stop class, reiterate the major questions of the course, and review where they have been so far and where the class is headed.

Part IV - Your Teaching Style

Below are forced-choice questions. For each one, choose the alternative that is most true of you. In some cases, all the alternatives may be true, so choose the one that is most true of you.

1. Which is most true of you?
I tend to demand a lot of people.
I tend to be forgiving of mistakes.
2. Which is most true of you?
I prefer situations in which careful planning ensures the right outcomes.
I prefer to let people make their own decisions, even if I disagree with their conclusions.
3. Which is most true of you?
People would describe my leadership style as directive. I like to get things done, and get them done right.
People would describe my leadership style as facilitative. I prefer to listen and let a team come to its own conclusions.
4. Which is most true of you?
I am a good listener. However, I sometimes find myself wanting to express my own point of view before the person I'm listening to has completed the thought.
I am a good listener. However, I sometimes find myself wanting to ask a follow up question before the person speaking has completed the thought.
5. Which is most true of you?
Winning is the most important thing.
Being surrounded by good people is more important than winning.
6. Which is most true of you?
When someone attacks my point of view, I never become defensive.
When someone attacks my point of view, I tend to want to defend myself.
When someone attacks my point of view, I tend to listen carefully to see if I have made a mistake in my assumptions or logic.
7. Which is most true of you?
If someone makes a commitment, I expect them to honor it.
Situations change, so previous commitments should always be judged in light of new information or the needs of the individual.
8. Which is most true of you?
I am committed to having each and every class deliver the lessons students need to learn.
I would rather students leave class without having learned anything rather than give them the right answer.
9. Which is most true of you?
People would say that I like to talk more than listen.
People would say that I like to listen and ask questions more than talk.
10. Which is most true of you?
I like sharing my knowledge and experience with others.
I like learning something new.
11. Which is most true of you?
I am good at telling jokes and/or entertaining people.
I am not very good at telling jokes, although I wish I were.
12. Which is most true of you?
Most of the investments I have made have turned out as I expected.
Many of the investments I have made have turned out differently than expected, even if some eventually were successful.
13. Which is most true of you?
Being successful at whatever I do is very important to me.
Success is often overrated.
14. Which is most true of you?
When I go on vacation, I like to have everything planned in advance and I am frustrated when plans have to change.
When I go on vacation, I like to have everything planned in advance, but I like to keep my options open.
When I go on vacation, I don't like to have anything planned in advance.
15. Which is most true of you?
I will bring a lot of energy to the classroom and know how to keep things lively.
I may sometimes worry that I will end up in front of the class with nothing to say.
16. Which is most true of you?
I can be "tough minded" but struggle to do this without coming across as "hard hearted" to others.
I seldom come across as "hard hearted" but sometimes struggle with holding others accountable in a "tough minded" way.

Part V. The Case Method

The Acton School of Business is dedicated to case method instruction, but it can be challenging. In the final part of this survey, please reflect which of these challenges would be most difficult for you.

1. Teaching by the case method for the first time often requires twenty five hours or more per week of preparation. You also must help students learn by making decisions instead of sharing your experience and expertise. Which would be more challenging for you?
Devoting the amount of time required?
Not sharing your expertise and experience, even when students seem to be headed in the wrong direction?
2. Many successful executives take pride in getting things done. Discussion learning often requires you to abandon your lesson plan in order to allow students to follow their energy. The case method also requires that you hold students strictly accountable for solving the problems themselves. Which would be more challenging for you?
Abandoning your lesson plan and "going with the flow" of an energetic student discussion, even if you don't know where it's going?
Holding students accountable for solving problems themselves?
3. A good case teacher knows when to ask a question to create more energy in class and when to be invisible and let students manage the discussion. It also means balancing between content (what is said) and process (how well it is said.) Which would be more challenging for you?
Choosing when to ask a question and when to become "invisible?"
Balancing between process and content?
4. Which would be more challenging for you?
Not sharing your expertise and experience, even when students seem to be headed in the wrong direction?
Abandoning your lesson plan and "going with the flow" of an energetic student discussion, even if you don't know where it's going?
5. Which would be more challenging for you?
Balancing between process and content?
Devoting the amount of time required?
6. Which would be more challenging for you?
Holding students accountable for solving problems themselves?
Choosing when to ask a question and when to become "invisible?"
For general information:
acontreras@actonmail.org
512-703-1280
If you are interested in becoming a Socratic Guide, contact:
acontreras@actonmail.org
512-703-1280