To be honest, I am not a big fan of classes that require you to write a term paper at the end of the semester. I am one of those who just prefer the old school assignments and in-class exams. Neither do I like classes where you are handed a project on which you have to work the whole semester, and produce a report for that project at the end of the semester. Paradoxically, those classes are the ones which taught me the most valuable skills, which I am certain, could help me secure a job in the future.
The most valuable and impactful higher ed-related learning experience I had, occurred in Spring 2016, the last semester of my masters training at Michigan State University. I was strongly advised by my supervisor to take a class called “Program Evaluation in Agriculture and Natural Resources”. The goal of the class was to teach us the necessary tools and techniques needed to monitor and evaluate agricultural programs/projects. Monitoring and Evaluating agricultural projects allow us to make sure the activities initially planned for the project/program are being implemented so as to achieve the goals that were set for the program.
At the beginning of the semester, we were all asked to evaluate an actual project that is either being implemented or had already been implemented. The aim was to have us write an evaluation report that could be distributed to the project management team. Throughout the semester, we gradually applied different concepts taught in class using other cases as examples. As an assignment, we each time, had to write a section of the final evaluation report based on the concepts we had learned. After discussion with our instructor, I decided to evaluate a program for which he had been the Principal Investigator (PI) in the past. The program was implemented in Cambodia and its main goal to supply environmentally-friendly farm inputs to farmers in order to help them improve their income and strengthen their livelihoods. I was able to write a whole evaluation report for that program, which was distributed back in Cambodia to the project management team.
This remains to date the most impactful class that I believe I have taken. I haven’t got the opportunity yet, but because of that class, I can design an evaluation proposal for a program/project, and this is a very good skill to have in my field of study. This experience simply showed that the best and probably the only way to teach certain courses is to use Case-Based Learning.