Keith Chen and Daylian Cain Receive 2010-2011 Yale SOMAA Teaching Awards
Keith Chen, associate professor of economics, and Daylian Cain, assistant professor of organizational behavior, were recognized for excellence in teaching, winning awards voted on by students and sponsored by the Yale SOM Alumni Association. Chen won for teaching in a core course and Cain won for teaching in an elective course. "We have spectacular teaching here," said Dean Sharon Oster, who presented the awards on April 18. "And when we see the way our faculty connects with students, we can see what makes this a special place. This is a different sort of business school. It's a more personal place."
Chen taught the Basics of Economics course in the core this year, and Oster cited the close rapport Chen has with his students, as well as his inventive and energetic teaching style. "He's gotten better every year," she said. Chen, who joined the Yale SOM faculty in 2003, said the award was an "incredible honor."
"I consider myself incredibly lucky to be able to teach economics here," he said. "Even if I weren't being paid, this is what I would love to do and it's incredibly gratifying to learn that the students appreciate the class."
Cain, who joined the Yale SOM faculty in 2007, was cited for his course Business Ethics Meets Behavioral Economics, which is steeped in his own research on the subjects. Oster said that students have been coming into her office since Cain's arrival to tell her what a "fabulous" teacher he is. She also commended him for designing a new course that fit together his own interests in a way relevant to making students better leaders.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, Cain noted how each year he usually gets at least one complaint from a student for going on too many digressions in class. "Actually, I plan all of those digressions, rehearsing my stories to my closet the night before," he said. "There is a method to the madness." He told of encountering a famous philosopher in Waikiki, who stressed to him the importance of using storytelling in the classroom. "He reminded me that when it comes to changing behavior and passing down knowledge, storytelling has stood the test of time," Cain said. As a result, he has strived to use stories, or "diversions," to connect his lessons to the students listening to them. He also pointed out previous winners of the award, such as Oster and Nicholas Barberis, the Stephen & Camille Schramm Professor of Finance, saying he was in "really good company here at SOM."
"As a kid, I told my mom that I'd cut off my little finger to get into Yale," he said, smiling. "Fortunately, Sharon hasn't collected yet."