This workshop was funded as part of one of HEA Social Science’s strategic priorities 2013 – 14 ‘Active and experiential learning in the Social Sciences’.
This blog post was compiled by Colin Simpson (University of Gloucestershire) firstname.lastname@example.org.
This workshop aimed to provide delegates with:
- An enhanced awareness of the challenging constructivist theoretical basis of AL pedagogies;
- An appreciation of how AL approaches can be integrated within course aims and assessment across a range of Business Management courses;
- An opportunity to critically evaluate the use of AL pedagogies through a consideration of their purpose and effectiveness;
- A collegial forum in which to engage with current debates about innovative pedagogies, particularly the question of whether AL is just another student-centred pedagogy or rather an action-centred approach which entails a reconceptualisation of learning and the role of the teacher.
This presentation was an introduction to the constructivist theoretical underpinnings of active learning (AL) as well as an introduction to the major types of AL pedagogies, including simulations, group projects and problem-based learning. A strong contrast was made between this type of teaching approach and traditional teacher-centred approaches which tend to treat students as passive recipients of authoritative knowledge. Colin suggested that rather than being just another teaching technique for keeping students busy (activity), AL provides students with experiences of “cognitive puzzlement” and invites them to “ask good questions” about complex, messy situations. In this way AL enables business management students to “develop and apply their own perspectives to their studies, to deal with uncertainty and complexity, to explore alternative solutions, to demonstrate critical evaluation and to integrate theory and practice in a wide range of situations” (HEA, 2007).
In a very interactive session, Jim Keane invited delegates to consider the contextual (institutional and resourcing) factors which are required to support the introduction of AL pedagogies on a business management programme. These might include management buy-in, staff training, physical and technological infrastructure, timetabling and management of large student numbers. Jim referred to a number of HEIs currently using AL approaches and provided links to some useful online materials and advice.
In a very hands-on session, Archan Mehta and Charles Afriyle contrasted the traditional (structured) method of teaching basic financial management skills to business students with a more open-ended AL approach (unstructured) aimed at challenging students to ask good contextual questions and understand the need for certain types of financial information to inform future strategies. Their experience of using this approach confirmed high levels of engagement from students and better assessment results.
Jason Evans and Tracy Jones discussed their experience of using business simulations on several modules at undergraduate and postgraduate Business Management modules. This included a capstone Level 6 integrative business strategy simulation using MyStrategyLab (Pearson) with a large cohort of students (around two hundred). Their Prezi can be accessed via this link.
Finally, Dave Dawson discussed his experience of delivering an international CSR module on an Erasmus-funded programme with participants from six countries using a group project approach. Dave explained how staff resistance was dealt with by designing the course based on the principle of “common levels of ignorance” culminating in a final assessment based on digital videos produced by multi-national groups of students.
I would be interested to hear about the experiences of colleagues who are currently involved in delivering business modules using AL pedagogies in other HEIs. To contribute to the discussion, please use the 'leave a reply' facility below.