As the newest class of MBA and Executive MBA students start their first semester at Columbia Business School, they’ll see the early impact of a brand new senior vice dean of curriculum and programming: Paul Tetlock.
Tetlock is only the second person to take on this role in its newly expanded form. He follows Jonah Rockoff, the Paul Garrett Professor of Public Policy and Business Responsibility at CBS. “He gave four selfless years to the school,” Tetlock says. “Now I’m excited about the opportunity to do my part.”
The wide-ranging position covers areas such as curriculum planning and course scheduling as well as teaching excellence. Tetlock will also oversee student affairs, academic records and registration, the EMBA program, admissions, financial aid, and career management.
As the A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Economics in the Finance Division at CBS, Tetlock brings expertise in using data to model and predict outcomes. From data-driven curriculum planning to courses that teach students how to harness artificial intelligence, Tetlock laid out his plans for his new role.
CBS: What are your biggest goals for CBS’s students and curriculum as you head into your first year?
Paul Tetlock: The role is broad, and so my goals are just as broad. First and foremost, we aim to add value to student education and careers. One way to do that is by using data to inform our decisions. We’re working to improve how we measure a number of key variables, like student satisfaction, advising activities, course ratings, and career outcomes. We’re already doing well on these dimensions, but I think we can do even better if we measure and model these outcomes.
By looking at which students have gone on to succeed in a certain career — and what courses they've taken — we can encourage a student who’s interested in pursuing that career to consider a similar path. We can help students by giving them good guidance on which courses would provide the skills needed to realize their goals.
CBS: What kinds of curriculum innovations do you plan to implement this year?
Tetlock: We’re thinking of various ways to promote the use of generative AI, in both instruction and in coursework. ChatGPT is one of these super-hot topics that everybody wants to talk about, but the big trick in using these technologies is to figure out what prompt to put in: Better prompts produce much better results.
Glaubinger Professor of Business Olivier Toubia built a class called Generative AI for Business to help students become better prompt engineers. It’s in the Marketing Division, so a natural project for this course is developing a personal marketing plan with the help of ChatGPT. It has very wide applicability to most of our students. And the initial response to it is really strong, in terms of student demand.
CBS: Another priority you’ve talked about is active and experiential learning. How will these approaches be integrated into the curriculum?
Tetlock: There's a lot of research that suggests that active learning is really effective in helping students both encode and retain new knowledge: The more students engage in interactive activities in the classroom, the more they think about these activities, the better they encode and retain them.
We envision a range of experiential learning courses, from primarily classroom based to mostly fieldwork based. The latter sounds like an internship, but it would be structured by faculty based on pedagogy, as opposed to an internship that is structured by a firm with a different goal in mind. Students would be working with private companies — maybe even government partners — in these project-based courses. This approach maximizes learning from real-world experiences. It complements traditional internships and has the potential to accelerate students’ progress in their desired career paths.
CBS welcomed 16 new full-time faculty members this summer. Read about them here.