Refining Teaching Technique

PROVO, Utah – Sep 21, 2018 – Each semester, BYU students have the opportunity to confidentially provide feedback about their courses and professors. Mark Keith describes the student evaluations he received after his first semester as a BYU Marriott professor as an “absolute slaughter.”
Around that same time, he also received an email from one of his students, outlining the characteristics of successful professors and ways in which Keith could improve. “That moment was a turning point in my career,” Keith says. “The feedback was exactly what I needed to hear and made me a better instructor.”
Keith also credits campus resources, the school’s culture of excellence, and the students themselves for helping him improve as a professor. According to Keith, students at BYU Marriott trust in their instructors, which motivates faculty members to perform at a higher level.
“Students here are completely different than students at any other university,” says Keith, who taught at Arizona State University, West Texas A&M University, and the University of Georgia before coming to BYU Marriott in 2012. “They are not only motivated and high performing but are also sincerely grateful for the education they receive.”
Keith himself is a graduate of BYU Marriott, earning his BS in information systems in 2003 and his MISM the following year. The son of a BYU geology professor, Keith never pictured himself following in his father’s footsteps. It wasn’t until he took the PhD preparation course as part of the MISM program that he considered going into academia.
“I’ve always liked the idea of solving business problems and coming up with creative technological solutions,” Keith says. “Only two weeks into that class, I realized that I wanted to get a PhD because it would teach the skills I would need to solve basically any problem in the IS domain.”
To pursue a PhD in information systems, Keith attended Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. The PhD program cultivated his passion for research. Since his 2009 graduation, Keith has conducted many studies on topics such as systems development methodology, survey design, team performance, and information security and privacy. Whatever the topic, Keith strives to implement his findings into his curricula.

“I teach the things I research because it helps me come up with better ideas and shape those ideas in a way that will be beneficial to other people, particularly my students,” Keith says. “I’ve learned the value of spending half my time teaching and half my time doing research because the two feed off of each other so well.”
One of Keith’s favorite research projects involved developing a geocaching app and observing user behavior. For a number of years, he monitored what personal information students chose to disclose to the app. The study was published in one of the top IS journals and inspired many additional papers, some of which were co-written by students. 
To further refine his teaching technique, Keith regularly creates YouTube video tutorials of data analytics and programming. He also helped revamp the IS 201 textbook to include videos of Keith teaching the material. Students who haven’t even taken a class from Keith now recognize his voice.
“I have had people randomly come up to me on the streets to thank me for that class,” Keith says. “Students and faculty put in a lot of effort and recognize the good in the other, and that’s what makes BYU special.”

IS professor Mark Keith
Mark Keith has taught information systems at BYU Marriott since 2012.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Maggie Kuta