After working in the international marketing industry for over fifteen years, Julie Pennington decided to teach again and is now being recognized by her colleagues for her ability to connect with students through the recognition and application of student interests to course material.
As an Assistant professor in the department of Management and Marketing, Pennington teaches mostly upper level classes including Market Research and International Marketing. Pennington says her experiences in the international market aid in her teaching as she is able to offer her students factual case scenarios from her time in the field.
"Everything has to relate back to real life, in my opinion," Pennington says. "In theory, everyone knows what to do, but when you are faced with a real-life situation, what do you do next?"
In her International Marketing class, Pennington offers students the opportunity to explore what's next for them through a term paper based on an international topic that also relates to the personal interests of each student. Students in the past have written on a variety of topics from fashion merchandising in India, to how HIV marketing is conducted in South Africa.
"The key is to tap into student passions," Pennington says.
Associate Dean of the College of Business, Dr. Robert Sutton says he admires the fact that Pennington involves the personal interests of students in her coursework.
"She has a strong ability to reach out and connect with students," Sutton says. "She empathizes with them and understands where they are at."
In order to keep students engaged in the classroom, Pennington uses minimal power points and makes discussion a priority. Many of these discussions allow students to brainstorm topics they want to learn more about and decide on objectives for the class as a whole. Pennington says she encourages student involvement because it permits them to tap into their passions while preparing them for what awaits them after graduation.
"I always say, the final is not in May, the final is in five years," Pennington says. "So how well you do in five years is my judge of how well you have done in my class."
Pennington said though she has the futures of her students in mind when she teaches, there remains a divide between what the students want and what she wants for her students.
"It's a disconnect—students want to learn just enough to get a good grade, and I want to prepare them for situations they will face in five years," Pennington says. "We have different goals."
Pennington says she hopes to remedy this divide by widening her students' understanding of what marketing is while she has them in her class. She presents different ways marketing is used by talking about topics such as human trafficking, where a human is the commodity. Pennington says her goal is to help students think beyond the classic definition of marketing and to challenge them to look at every aspect of what their future jobs may entail.
"I think too often they think they want an easy instructor, but they don't," Pennington said. "They want an instructor who taps into their passions and they want to learn something in the process."