Teaching at the cutting edge – Audio

The excellent university classroom

John Parrish, professor
Department of Animal Science
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
(608) 263-4324, (608) 263-7698

3:00 – Total Time
0:13 – More women, less farm backgrounds
0:39 – Teaching the modern student
1:07 – Podcasting as an educational tool
1:27 – Flipping the classroom
2:11 – Teaching to lead and manage
2:52 – Lead out


Sevie Kenyon: The changing University classroom we are visiting today with John Parrish, Department of Animal Science University of Wisconsin – Madison in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and I’m Sevie Kenyon. John, how is the classroom changing over time?

John Parrish: When I started out teaching in the late 1980s, we had a predominantly male classroom; we’ve switched to almost entirely female now. We went from students with an agricultural background in the animal sciences to almost totally having an urban, maybe a pet background, but not really an agricultural background.

Sevie Kenyon: And John, what kinds of things are you doing to adapt to these changes?

John Parrish: So when you have students that don’t have that agricultural background you need to give them a framework for them to integrate the knowledge that we are trying to communicate to them. In order to accomplish that we use a lot of case study work, we have them actively engage with solving problems, we give hands on work with animals trying to get them to understand all of the different things we are talking about in class.

Sevie Kenyon: John can you give us an example or two of some new things you have done in the classroom?

John Parrish: We do podcasting, which is really popular these days. So we teach them how to record something, how to make a visual component to that, but integrate it within the knowledge that we are doing in the particular class that I teach and that’s reproductive physiology.

Sevie Kenyon: John, are there some new technologies that you’re looking at bringing to the classroom?

John Parrish: We began around 2000 in doing what’s called a flip classroom. Where we present material outside of class, and typically we do that with a podcast there could be readings, I have online textbooks I’ve written. And then when you come to class you do something active. I think that is what’s going to be driving university education in the future. So that we are more involved in active learning in the class room period of time, and more of the passive learning things that students would do they are going to do outside of class, and so they will be actively engaged in either solving problems or working with animals, working with tissue. And I think that is the future of a university education as we move forward.

Sevie Kenyon: What satisfies you the most about this?

John Parrish: Well, I’ll tell you I had an interesting student early on in my career, where we were talking about things that happened on his dairy farm. And I realized that from what we talked about in class he made a tremendous change in what they were doing. So I’ve taken that to try how can I get them to think beyond the exact material here, how can I get them to change things. In general, we are training people to be the managers. They are going to be the managers of agriculture in the future; we want them to think really broadly about how they should do that. And how do you train those people? They don’t have any experience in some of these things and so that is what I am trying to get at.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with John Parrish, Department of Animal Science University of Wisconsin – Madison in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and I’m Sevie Kenyon.