Teaching Background and Approach

Kenneth L. Simons

After joining Rensselaer at the end of summer 2003, Dr. Simons has been teaching PhD Econometrics (at the level of Hayashi); PhD Advanced Microeconomics (at the level of Mas-Colell, Whinston, and Green); PhD Quantitative Analysis (at the level of Simon and Blume); 4000-level Econometrics; 4000-level Quantitative Analysis (meets with PhD course); and 4000-level Structure of Industry (IO/strategy).

At Royal Holloway, University of London, Dr. Simons taught in the following areas: industrial economics, industrial growth and technological change, undergraduate dissertations (coordination and master sessions), quantitative methods for economics II, quantitative methods presession course for MSc students, and quantitative methods for MSc students.  New course development was substantial in this teaching: courses on quantitative methods for economics II and industrial growth and competition were taught for the first time at Royal Holloway and were developed to convey not only subject-oriented knowledge but also practical skills for research, problem-solving, and group work.

Dr. Simons began teaching while an undergraduate at MIT, including for courses regarding the dynamics of industries and corporate strategy.  He developed and taught for three semesters a course in differential equations, and co-developed and taught for three semesters a course in chemistry.  Both courses were for credit and taken by MIT undergraduates.  He was a TA for systems thinking for MBAs (in his second freshman semester), for a system dynamics course for MBAs, and for a system dynamics summer course for executives.  He received MIT's Karl Taylor Compton Prize, awarded for exceptional student contribution to the university, for his course development and teaching.

He uses innovative teaching approaches.  As one example, he incorporates educational games into the curriculum to enhance learning and increase student motivation.  For his courses in industrial organization, he developed and uses a tabletop simulation of industry competition to help students understand models of industry competitive dynamics.  He has developed computerized "flight simulators" for: (a) strategic management in the face of industry competition, and (b) global change models.  The flight simulators are actively used for courses at various universities.  Such educational flight simulators bring home the importance of issues studied, aid recall of key concepts and skills, and generate excitement that increases students' interest in a course as a whole.  He has also integrated computerized education into courses on quantitative methods, and benefitted from an award an RPI Faculty Mobile Computing grant for enhanced computer use in the curriculum.

His other contributions to teaching and learning have included, at RPI, participation in the Humanities and Social Sciences Curriculum Committee, and at Royal Holloway, monitoring teaching of other faculty, supervising development of computer and library resources, co-coordinating departmental accreditation ("QAA"), serving on Royal Holloway's teaching committee, and chairing departmental exam preparations and exam board.  He has been admitted to the Institute of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. He has served as advisor or committee member for numerous PhD students.

His teaching preferences relate to: industrial organization, economics of technology, strategy, technology strategy, quantitative methods, dynamic modeling, econometrics.


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Rev. 5 December 2006