Assurance of learning standards and scaling strategies to enable expansion of experiential learning courses in management education
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In today’s dynamic globalized business environment, management educators must develop pedagogies that support students to manage and lead in rapidly changing business contexts. An increasing number of institutions use experiential learning as a component of their curriculum to address this challenge. Initially, a response to industry criticism that graduates were unable effectively apply skills needed to be successful, experiential learning has become a baseline expectation in management education programs. Students increasingly expect opportunities to practice and demonstrate competency in the theories they learn in the classroom by applying them in real-world projects. However, expanding such opportunities for students is limited by a unique set of complex administrative challenges inherent in this approach. To expand opportunities for students, institutions must overcome scalability obstacles resulting from the customized nature of the offerings. Business challenges where student teams work with external partners provide a real world learning experience. But they also pose difficulty in applying a standardized approach to assurance of learning. Course content must be redeveloped each time the course is offered, as external projects must be sourced, leading to input and output variation. Advising, monitoring, and assessing students is resource intensive, because at many schools each team is assigned a different business challenge. This article offers a set of assurance of learning standards that institutions can apply to project-based experiential learning courses and posits that greater cross-departmental integration in sourcing projects and better use of technology can increase the efficacy and efficiency of the courses to address the scalability issue.
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