Airtime Machiavelli

My colleague and fellow case teaching enthusiast Mark Kriger dug into his files a few days ago and showed me Robert Ronstadt’s The Art of Case Analysis, a self-published how-to for prospective students in a case teaching environment. This thing is fantastic – it has strategies for how to look smart in front of the teacher (see exhibit), where to sit in the classroom, and roles to play in the classroom. Also has pointers to preparation and case ethics, as well as some basic analysis. My, what a cheat sheet for students…..
Here are three alternative strategies for how to let the teacher form a good impression:

And here is where to sit in the classroom:

7 thoughts on “Airtime Machiavelli

  1. Oleg Tukh

    This is interesting from a student’s perspective, but I’m wondering what you think about it as a professor. Do you take it into consideration?

  2. Espen

    Well, it does matter where you sit in the classroom in terms of how well the professor sees you. And students very definitely play roles, though in most case classes I have students don’t see each other long enough for clear roles to develop. The fun thing about Ronstadt’s book is that he makes a lot of assumptions and myths explicit – and once you know about them, you can as a teacher play on them.
    That being said, good analysis and clear communication will smash through tactics any day. And as a teacher, you very soon figure out who knows and who pretends to know. When discussing students in faculty meetings, there rarely is much disagreement about the relative merits of individual students.

  3. Steve

    My recollection of “The Prince” is that it addressed the timeless question of whether a leader should be loved or feared. I think I remember the answer to be feared because people fall in and out of love but not in and out of fear. I wonder how professors’ view the premise of the “The Prince.” I wish I would have read this blogg with Exhibits 1 & 2 before the course ended. I now have to think back to the classes and try to figure out who – if anyone read this and used it (properly).

  4. Espen

    Hmmmm… well, I will let that comments stand, since I suppose students would have found it anyway. As for the usefulness of the book in really getting good grades – well, if a student takes the time to read and practice what the book says, I suspect he or she would have done well anyway…. It is a little bit like preparing cheat sheets for an examination – the act of preparing them makes you knowledgeable enough that you don’t need them when the exam comes.

  5. lynchee

    I don’t know this guy, but i think being feared is waaaayy better. Especially with male students, and especially if you are a female instructor.

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