McNamara pens experiential learning article in business education journal

Thursday January 17, 2019Roger Coda
Dr. Susan McNamara
Dr. Susan McNamara

Results of a study of an innovative instructional approach to teaching organizational behavior are detailed in a paper, co-written by Management professor Susan McNamara and her daughter, Anne McNamara, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pittsburgh. Their article will appear in the winter issue of the online Journal of Education for Business.

Innovations explored in “Authentic Simulated Startups: Bringing the Real World into the Classroom” include the impact of students creating authentic business start-ups with teams that remain intact across the semester. Another innovation is the deliberate scaffolding of theories, models and skills.

Dr. McNamara grounded the course, BUAD 323 Organizational Behavior, in Kolb’s model of experiential learning and problem-based learning model which emphasizes concrete learning, reflection, conceptual learning and then application.

Data from 151 student surveys compiled over six consecutive semesters demonstrated that the course may help students learn how to work on a team and how to apply business concepts to real-world situations. Quantitative and qualitative data were utilized to substantiate this anecdotal evidence and to investigate the potential impact of this course.

According to McNamara, students overwhelmingly agreed the course helped them to learn new skills related to their success after graduation. More specifically, they report that the “ability to work on a team” is the top competency they developed through this course. Their open-ended responses suggest that this course promotes students’ understanding of how to apply the knowledge and skills learned. The most important feature of the course was creating a business, including a business plan.

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