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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Christian Wernz


The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Christian Wernz, assistant professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering, for his approach in developing students’ critical thinking skills and improving their ability to communicate via technical reports and business presentations.

Dr. Wernz teaches students how to scope and execute projects on process and organizational improvements in his ISE 4015 class on Management Systems (40-50 students/semester). He ensures that students clearly define goals that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) at the beginning of their project. He emphasizes that students work on the right problem, not just do the right analysis. He teaches students how to make better decisions using decision analysis, how to better manage project teamwork by encouraging students to assign responsibilities to individual students to avoid “accountability diffusion.” He informs students about the latest collaborative technologies (Dropbox, Google Docs etc.).
He teaches us to be better writers by giving frequent feedback on our project reports and encouraging us to work with the writing center. He offers easy to follow writing guidelines such as “BLUF – bottom line up front,” “ B.S. – be specific,” and “P+A=D – purpose plus audience equals design.” He teaches students about pyramidal thinking and hypothesis driven project planning.
He introduces students to the business way of organizing presentation slides. Business oriented presentations should start with the results, not background information. Information is presented in reverse chronological order; similar to newspaper articles. This approach is counter-intuitive at first and goes against what students haves seen from other academics. However, students realize that it is effective and a best practice in many businesses, including management consulting companies. Further, he instills in students to use “thesis statement” as PowerPoint headings, not just plain titles. For example, instead of “Sales Data Over Time,” students would write “Sales have been constantly increasing.” This statement is supported by a figure that can be understood quickly by the audience.

A former student emailed Dr. Wernz two years after taking his class in which he “Wanted to thank [him] for a job well done in teaching decision analysis,” and pointing out the business relevance of what he had learnt in class. Other students have confirmed that “Technical writing/presentation portions were invaluable,” and “class has been great.”

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( 1822 )

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