[We’re pleased to welcome author Matthew Eriksen of Providence College. Eriksen recently published an article in the Journal of Management Education entitled “Shared-Purpose Process Implications and Possibilities for Student Learning, Development, and Self-Transformation,” co-authored by Kevin Cooper. Below, Eriksen outlines the inspiration for this study:]
Over my 20 year teaching career, I continuously have found myself disappointed with my students¹ initial level of commitment to, engagement in and responsibility for their learning and development as they enter my course. Just as Lencioni (2002) identifies a lack of commitment as one the five dysfunctions of a team, a low level of student commitment to a course has a significant negative impact on students¹ learning and educational experience, as well as on instructors¹ professional gratification (Jenster & Duncan, 1987). For many, it is as if education has become something that is happening to students rather than something that they actively and intentionally engage in to achieve some purpose beyond getting a good grade and course credit, preferably with a minimal amount of effort.
In our article, Kevin Cooper and I present a response to student disengagement in the form of a shared-purpose process. Although initially conceived to increase students¹ commitment to and engagement in their learning and development, as the shared-purpose process was employed it became apparent that it was also a form of experiential/case-in-point learning (Heifetz, 1994; Heifetz & Linsky,2002) that is relevant to leadership, team and organizational development courses, as establishment of and commitment to a shared purpose and organizing context is important to becoming an effective team or organization. In addition, once a shared purpose is established and committed to by students and teacher, it can provide a guiding framework through which to facilitate additional partnership and in-class experiential learning opportunities.
In contrast to other student-directed learning methodologies, the shared-purpose process takes into account the social, as well the cognitive, aspects of learning. In addition, it helps students proactively identify and develop strategies to address hindrances to their learning. Over the course of the semester, students¹ self-transformation is facilitated through their weekly engagement in self-reflection (Kolb, 1984; Schön, 1983), self-reflexivity (Cunliffe, 2004; Cunliffe & Easterby-Smith, 2004), peer coaching, and a cogenerative dialogue (Martin, 2006; Stith & Roth, 2006). Cogenerative dialogue allows students to learn from their classmates¹ experiences, as well as their own direct experience.
In addition to being successfully employed in undergraduate and MBA leadership and team courses, this shared purpose process has also be employed in teams and organizations to improve members¹ engagement, commitment and performance, and once the shared purpose has been established, it can be used as a structure to facilitate collaboration and productively work through conflict.
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Cunliffe, A. and Easterby-Smith, M. (2004). “From reflection of practicalreflexivity: Experiential learning as lived experience.” In M. Reynolds and R. Vince (Eds.) Organizing Reflection, Ashgate: Aldershot, 30-46.
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Heifetz, R. A., & Linsky, M. (2002). Leadership on the line: staying alive through the dangers of leading. Boston, Mass, Harvard Business School Press.
Jenster, P. V. & Duncan, D. D. (1987). “Creating a context of commitment:
Course agreements as a foundation.” Journal of Management Education, 11(3): 60-71.
Martin, S. (2006). “Where practice and theory intersect in the chemistry classroom: using cogenerative dialogue to identify the critical point in science education.” Cultural Studies of Science Education, 1 (4), 693-720.
Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Lencioni, P. (2002). The five dysfunctions of a team: A leadership fable, Jossey-Bass: San Francisco.
Schön, D. (1983). The reflective practitioner. London: Temple Smith.
Stith,I. & Roth, W-M. (2006). “Who gets to ask the questions: The ethics in/of cogenerative dialogue praxis.” [46 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 7(2).
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