Understanding Students’ Engagement in Higher Education

[We’re pleased to welcome author Dr. Alexander Kofinas of University of Bedfordshire. Dr. Kofinas recently published an article in Management Learning entitled “Managing the sublime aesthetic when communicating an assessment regime: The Burkean Pendulum,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Kofinas reveals the inspiration for conducting this research :]

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What motivated you to pursue this research?

When looking back to this piece of work I realise that the main motivation for pursuing the publication of this conceptual work is the sympathy I have for the students and their perturbations. I think sometimes the academy is relatively dismissive of the emotive aspects of learning and the sheer terror that some of my students seem to feel when facing new concepts, new ideas and new knowledge. At times, it appears like a small death; the death of the students’ previous state of knowledge and being. And yet looking back at my own learning journey it is in those small deaths and re-births, in those moments where I felt the abjection, the fear, the pressure; in those moments memories grew memories that I hold dear. And in those moments, my then classmates, housemates, friends, and teachers became an important aspect of my interpretation of my story. Thus there is something attractive in this fear and in overcoming it, and the closest word to describe this feeling of attraction has been the sublime as described by Burke.

What is the most important/ influential piece of scholarship you’ve read in the last year?

It is hard to isolate a single influential piece of scholarship; it is in blending them that I get insight. So better to talk about a specific blend that helped with this published work. To make sense of the sublime and its connection to the learning journey of my students I tapped into an eclectic range of literature which rarely focussed on Higher Education. However, the breakthrough for this article was only possible when I made the connection between productive failure (which is akin to Argyris’ double-loop learning), with the way Kant was treating the feeling of the sublime; it was the realisation that Kant was treating the sublime almost as a failure of cognition to conquer the external world that provided that mechanism behind the burkean pendulum.

What did not make it into your published manuscript that you would like to share with us?

As usual, there is much that did not make it to the final manuscript. The original manuscript had 3x the concepts and ideas and was a bit of a… mess. Arguably the most important part removed was probably the section on flow and terror management theory; in the original manuscript I had suggested that flow (as in Goleman’s flow) is part of the terror management process and thus a way to overcome the sublime. There may be here scope for a future paper that seriously examines the beauty side of the aesthetic motivation and its link to flow. Terror Management theory (TMT) also would be good to explore explicitly, I was sad to remove it but in the end it was the sublime thread that was the priority. However, I still think that the TMT authors in that field have tapped something that may be uncomfortable to many but it is of primary importance to acknowledge and investigate; Death is a vital part of our life and that in learning both life and death are present…

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How Educators Should Respond to Culture, Gender, and Moral Ideology on Sales Ethics Evaluations

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Youngsu Lee of California State University, Chico, Timothy Heinze of California State University, Chico, Casey Donoho of California State University, Chico, Christophe Fournier of the University of Montpellier, Ahamed A. F. M. Jalal of Binus University International, David Cohen of Lincoln University, and Eike Hennebichler of the University of Montpellier. They recently published an article in the Journal of Marketing Education entitled “An International Study of Culture, Gender, and Moral Ideology on Sales Ethics Evaluations: How Should Educators Respond?” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Heinze reflects on the motivations for conducting this research:]

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My motivation for working on “An International Study of Culture, Gender, and Moral Ideology on Sales Ethics Evaluations: How Should Educators Respond?” fundamentally centered on the need to facilitate ethical orientations and practices in sales. Globally, sales is one of the most difficult positions for hiring managers to fill. However, though professional sales positions are readily available and offer lucrative financial and lifestyle benefits, many college students do not desire sales careers. This fact is of particular concern in marketing where the majority of students must begin their professional careers in sales. Therefore, the paper is an attempt to better understand the global nature of sales ethics. If we can understand the drivers behind ethical sensitivity and decision making in sales, we can better develop pedagogical tools to effectively teach sales ethics.

The most challenging aspect of the research involved coordinating data collection across five countries. However, the international nature of the study also provided several interesting and unexpected findings. For example, we found that cultural traditionalism doesn’t necessarily yield increased ethical sensitivity. Indonesia is technically more traditional than the U.S., but Indonesian respondents were not as ethically sensitive to sales improprieties. This finding aligned with prior research which uncovered that collectivistic societies such as Indonesia tend to have lower levels of ethical sensitivity.

Another interesting finding dealt with gender and ethical sensitivity. Females were more ethically sensitive in all countries, save Germany (where females and males shared similar sensitivity levels). Germany was the most secular country studied, and the disappearance of traditional gender roles in secular societies might influence sensitivity levels.

Finally, the research confirmed that moral ideologies impact ethical sensitivity. Individuals who subscribe to absolutist ideologies (high idealism/low relativism) are the most sensitive to ethical misconduct in sales situations.


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Mobile Business Retailing

cafe-691956_1920[We’re pleased to welcome authors Sarah Fischbach and Veronica Guerrero of California Lutheran University. They recently published an article in the Journal of Marketing Education entitled “Mobile Business Retailing: Driving Experiential Learning on Campus,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they reflect on the motivations for conducting this research:]

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Almost everyone knows what you are talking about when you say Food Truck, however, when you start talking about Game Trucks, Fashion Trucks, Mobile Pet Services Trucks, Mobile IV Trucks, you will find less true understanding and knowledge. In 2014, I attended a 7-year-old birthday party for one of my neighbors’ son. It seemed like the average birthday party with a cake, piñata and of course a food truck. After a little while a couple more trucks pulled up including a Mobile Game Truck and a Mobile Beauty Truck. Inside the climate controlled Game Truck there were six 55” LED TVs with video game consoles, tons of games and controllers for up to 24 players. I was amazed and it took me by surprise, what other types of mobile business are out there. My research lead to the American Mobile Retail Association (AMRA) http://www.americanmra.com and after a couple of conversations with the founders Stacey Jischke-Steffe and Jeanine Romo, I knew that this was something that students needed to know about. The way companies and place our products with the consumer is changing, drastically.
I began working with the AMRA to set up mobile business truck events on campus and it has been a big hit. One of the challenges that I faced was the commitment of the mobile business owner. If they didn’t want to set up their shop or drive it up to campus, they didn’t have to, they were mobile. Another challenge that I found was peoples’ perceptions with mobile businesses since their first and only experience was with food trucks.

The most innovative aspects of the research focus on experiential learning and the use of mobile business truck format. Sometimes students are less motivated in a marketing course when their major is finance, accounting or management. The novelty of the mobile business project allows the students outside the marketing field to see how this could be important at all levels. The mobile business owner is the marketer, manager and the entrepreneur. In business, we wear many hats and this is a great way for the students to see it first-hand.

I have learned that research in pedagogy can be very rewarding. As a professor and a marketing researcher, I enjoy blending research into my courses and testing out new ideas with the students. It is great when these two intersect and the research is helping to improve student learning outcomes. I encourage more professors to apply their research skills to classroom activities.


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Food Truck photo attributed to Free-Photos. (CC)

Is RateMyProfessors.com Unbiased?

classroom-1910014_1920[We’re pleased to welcome authors David Ackerman of California State University Northridge and Christina Chung of Ramapo College of New Jersey. They recently published an article in the Journal of Marketing Education entitled “Is RateMyProfessors.com Unbiased? A Look at the Impact of Social Modelling on Student Online Reviews of Marketing Classes,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they reflect on the motivations for conducting this research:]

JME(D)_72ppiRGB_powerpointOur paper “Is RateMyProfessors.com Unbiased?: A Look at the Impact of Social Modelling on Student Online Reviews of Marketing Classes” was definitely motivated by personal experience. My colleagues and I early on noticed that there was a huge mismatch between the one or two student ratings per semester on online rating sites such as RMP and the 100 or more ratings from the student evaluation measures collected at our universities. Some seemed to hit it right. They had a great rating or two and then subsequent ratings were good. Others seemed to hit it wrong, with a really bad rating or two from a student unhappy with his or her grade and then subsequent ratings were bad.

We compared SEMs and found those who had both good and bad RMP ratings all had good SEMs. Those were my personal observations though I know there has been some research suggesting that RMP can be similar to SEMs and some suggesting the opposite. I didn’t look into it at the time because I felt sites like RMP provide a place for students to vent their anger or express their happiness, kind of like a virtual public bathroom stall.

An external event that sparked this specific research paper was the rise of “social media mobs.” Groups of anonymous raters would attack a rating site and leave a lot of negative ratings about a particular business, product or service. Though most of these raters were anonymous, the ratings depressed future ratings that were posted. Before the attack, ratings might be moderate to positive, but afterward, primarily negative ratings would be posted.

So, my colleague and I set out to see if this pattern held in online teaching ratings and it did. The results of this study suggest that several highly positive or negative ratings have an oversized influence on subsequent ratings, who model the previous ratings, which can compromise the validity of the ratings. We are also looking into whether they also influence the willingness of people to do an online rating if their views are contrary to the prevailing positive or negative salient reviews. These results suggest that rating sites should do all they can to remove unverified ratings, especially if they are extremely negative or positive to maintain the validity and integrity of their rating system.

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Classroom photo attributed to Wokandapix. (CC)

Are We Teaching What Employers Want?

[We’re pleased to welcome author Ellen McArthur of Griffith University, who recently published an article in the Journal of Marketing Education entitled, “The Employers’ View of “Work-Ready” Graduates: A Study of Advertisements for Marketing Jobs in Australia.” The article is co-authored by Krzysztof Kubacki, Bo Pang, and Celeste Alcaraz, also of Griffith University. Below, McArthur discusses key findings of the study:]

Innovative research by Griffith University into graduate job advertisements in Australia shows employers value the personal traits of job candidates more highly than degree qualifications. The study, which is the largest of its kind into graduate jobs in marketing, raises questions about the purpose of a degree, and whether universities are preparing students to be “work-ready”.

While the study focussed on marketing jobs, the findings have relevance for all academic disciplines. The most frequently required attributes were “soft skills” that are not specific to marketing, including motivation, time management, attention to detail, and teamwork. Superior communication skill, particularly writing talent, was also highly demanded, and it was only after the calls for these generic abilities that occupation-specific skills began to rank.

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Among occupation-specific abilities, digital marketing was the most needed, including search engine optimisation, Google Analytics, AdWords, and creating and curating social media content for a range of platforms. Other demanded skills included project management, marketing communications, sales, and customer service and customer relationship management (CRM).

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Some 48.5% of ads called for applicants with experience. This significant figure suggests the need for far greater integration of undergraduate study with initiatives that deliver hands-on practice, including internships, work integrated learning, and practice-based assessments.

General IT skills and a high level of computer literacy are important pre-requisites for applying for marketing positions. Experience in MS Office, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, was specified in almost one in three ads, followed by Adobe Suite, InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. Though students may use these programs ad hoc, such strong demand suggests the need to embed this software use into courses as explicit learning outcomes.

A marketing degree specifically was required in only half the sample of advertisements, with communication, psychology, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics also providing pathways into marketing roles. This reflects the cross-disciplinary nature of marketing careers in the twenty-first century.

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The Employers’ View of “Work-Ready” Graduates: A Study of Advertisements for Marketing Jobs in Australia’, content analysed 359 graduate advertisements (83,000 words) for careers in marketing posted on Australia’s top jobs website in a six-month period in 2016. Full time employment rates for Australian graduates have dropped to new lows, and the research aimed to identify the specific skills and attributes demanded by employers for graduate level jobs in marketing.

The study won a Best Paper Award at ANZMAC in 2016. Click here to read the full article for a limited time.

Griffith University is based in South-east Queensland, Australia, and ranks in the top 3% of universities globally, with more than 50,000 students across five campuses.

Dr. Ellen McArthur, who led the research project, said “large samples of job advertisements are perhaps the most valid way to study employers’ needs, but they are rarely used for employability research.”

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Introduction to Special Issue: Learning & Education

[We’re pleased to welcome Laura Galloway of Heriot-Watt University and David Higgins of the University of Liverpool. They recently guest edited a special issue in Industry and Higher Education entitled “Learning and education: Exploring entrepreneurial actions and practice.” From Galloway and Higgins:]

ihea_31_2.cover.pngFollowing the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship Conference in Glasgow in Autumn 2015, we were delighted to develop a special issue of Industry and Higher Education on ‘Learning and education: Exploring entrepreneurial actions and practice’ – the 5th special issue we have done so far. Included are seven papers, collated to comprise a robust contribution to the field.
Several of the papers are on the broad topic of entrepreneurship education in universities, including:

  • Lost in Space’: The Role of Social Networking in University-based Entrepreneurial Learning by Lockett, Quesada-Pallarès, Williams-Middleton, Padilla-Meléndez and Jack who explore the impact of social networking on learning in the UK and Sweden;
  • Entrepreneurship in Vocational Education:  A Case Study of the Brazilian Context by Stadler and Smith, in which entrepreneurship education in vocational studies in Brazil is explored;
  • Breaking in the Waves: Routines and Rituals in Entrepreneurship Education by Neergaard and Christensen, who present an exploratory study of how classroom routines and rituals impact on entrepreneurship education;
  • The Phenomenon of Student-Led Enterprise Groups by Preedy and Jones who investigate how the simulated business ‘roles’ performed in student-led enterprise groups afford and enhance experiential and social learning;
  • A Mystagogical View of ‘Withness’ in Entrepreneurship Education by Refai and Higgins investigates entrepreneurship education from a mystagogy perspective, exploring notions of identity with and initiation into entrepreneurship.

Papers on learning amongst those in firms are also included in this special edition:

  • Help Wanted! Exploring the Value of Entrepreneurial Mentoring at Start-Up by Brodie, Van Saane, and Osowska presents a qualitative study of mentoring in five start-up ventures;
  • Up the ANTe: Understanding Entrepreneurial Leadership Learning through Actor-Network Theory by Smith, Kempster and Barnes focuses on leadership in the small business, how it is learnt and its importance.

These papers form a valuable contribution to the study of entrepreneurship education and learning amongst entrepreneurs. Through this special issue we seek to present a scholarly voice which seeks to foster innovative and accessible scholarly writing which is of crucial importance to any research field. The ability of any publication to develop material which engages with practical experience and action must be a key priority in the advancement of future practice and scholarship. The uniqueness of the ISBE community to develop and stimulate activities which can serve the ISBE community provides an extremely valuable network of resources for early career researchers, students and practitioners.

The special issue articles ‘Breaking in the Waves: Routines and Rituals in Entrepreneurship Education’ by Neergaard and Christensen, and ‘‘Lost in Space’: The Role of Social Networking in University-based Entrepreneurial Learning’ by Lockett, Quesada-Pallarès, Williams-Middleton, Padilla-Meléndez and Jack are currently free to read through Industry and Higher Education.

The 2017 Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship Conference is taking place 8-9 November 2017 in Belfast, and has a theme of ‘‘Borders’, prosperity and entrepreneurial responses.

From the Ordinary to Corruption in Higher Education

[We’re pleased to welcome author Mildred A. Schwartz of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Schwartz recently published an article in the Journal of Management Inquiry entitled “From the Ordinary to Corruption in Higher Education.” From Schwartz:]

When I moved to New Jersey after many years of teaching in Chicago, my interest as a political and organizational sociologist was piqued by theJMI_72ppiRGB_powerpoint.jpg kind of corruption I learned of.  Not fully satisfied with existing theories and explanations, I began thinking of how to approach corruption as a sociological phenomenon.  Then, when I read local press coverage about misconduct at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), I felt that I had found the ideal case
for exploring how corruption could arise even within such an unexpected setting–a university dedicated to the health care professions.

Of all the findings that came from my research, at least two were surprising.  One was the prevalence of many of the illegal or unethical behaviors found at UMDNJ in other U.S. universities that had medical schools.  The second was the ability of UMDNJ and other universities, despite misconduct, to still fulfill their duties to train health care professionals, advance scientific research, and treat the sick.

I would like to think that my findings will inspire efforts at controlling organizational corruption, particularly as it is manifested in higher education.  At least three guidelines emerged from the larger research, discussed in my book, Trouble in the University:  How the Education of Health Care Professionals became Corrupted (Brill, 2014).  One is the importance of enough transparency to allow organizational participants to understand how decisions are made.  Second is the need for accepted avenues through which to express complaints without fear of reprisal.   Third, and this is especially relevant to state-supported universities although it is not confined to them, is the need for firm boundaries between politics and education.

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