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 :]


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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Beyond Developmental: The Decision-Making Applications of Personality Tests

5529311561_4ba9be7419_zThe use of personality assessments in organizations has often been limited to developmental applications. However, growing support for data-driven decision-making in recent years has made it apparent that personality assessments could also become a resource for talent management decisions. In a recent paper from Journal of Applied Behavioral Science entitled “Does Purpose Matter? The Stability of Personality Assessments in Organization Development and Talent Management Applications Over Time”, authors Allan H. Church, Christina R. Fleck, Garett C. Foster, Rebecca C. Levine, Felix J. Lopez, and Christopher T. Rotolo investigate the consistency of personality data over time and whether the changing application of personality assessments changes their validity. The abstract for the paper:

Personality assessment has a long history of application in the workplace. While the field of organization development has historically focused on developmental aspects of personality tools, other disciplines such as industrial-organizational psychology have emphasized its psychometric properties. The importance of data-driven insights for talent management (e.g., the identification of high potentials, succession Current Issue Coverplanning, coaching), however, is placing increasing pressure on all types of applied behavioral scientists to better understand the stability of personality tools for decision-making purposes. The current study presents research conducted with 207 senior leaders in a global consumer products organization on the use of personality assessment data over time and across two different conditions: development only and development to decision making. Results using three different tools (based on the Hogan Assessment Suite) indicate that core personality and personality derailers are generally not affected by the purpose of the assessment, though derailers do tend to moderate over time. The manifestation of values, motives, and preferences were found to change across administrations. Implications for organizational development and talent management applications are discussed.

You can read the paper, “Does Purpose Matter? The Stability of Personality Assessments in Organization Development and Talent Management Applications Over Time,” from Journal of Applied Behavioral Science free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to stay current on all of the latest research published by Journal of Applied Behavioral ScienceClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Image attributed to Service Design Berlin (CC)

Rethinking How We Measure Corporate Social Responsibility

10617765806_b7f4f4ca12_z[We’re pleased to welcome Gunther Capelle-Blancard. Gunther recently published an article in Business & Society with co-author Aurélien Petit entitled “The Weighting of CSR Dimensions: One Size Does Not Fit All.”]

Companies could develop eco-friendly products or support social programs, and meanwhile damage the environment or experiment governance failures. Corporate Social Responsibility is multidimensional. Often, though, responsible investors (and customers) are interested in synthetic rankings that sum up the ESG (Environmental, Social and corporate Governance) scores.  Such composite scores raise fundamental questions which, surprisingly, are widely overlooked by academics and practitioners.

If the question of fungibility (“do good actions compensate bad ones?”) is essential and has been discussed in the literature, this article focuses on commensurability (the “apples and oranges” problem). For instance, Oil & Gas companies are mostly criticized on environmental issues, while corporate governance is the main stake for Banks. Overall ratings that sum equally environmental, social and corporate governance marks would not reflect the sectors’ concerns. One size does not fit all.

We develop a new method of CSR rating, based on news disclosed by the media and nongovernmental organizations. Thanks to the Covalence EthicalQuote database, we BAS Coveranalyze more than 70,000 positive or negative ESG news, regarding the world’s largest companies. Our results suggest that rating agencies and previous academic research underweight the environment and corporate governance. Mostly, our method allows fitting the ratings to the sectors’ specific stakes. It can be used to assess Corporate Social Performance better.

The abstract for the paper:

Although the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is fundamentally multidimensional, most studies use composite scores to assess corporate social performance (CSP). How relevant are such composite scores? How the CSR dimensions are weighted? Should the weighting scheme be the same across sectors? This article proposes an original weighting scheme of CSR strengths and concerns, at the sector level, which is proportional to media and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) scrutiny. The authors show that previous CSP assessments underweight environmental and corporate governance concerns. Moreover, findings suggest that firms that are exposed to the closest scrutiny are usually criticized on one single dimension: for instance, banks for bad corporate governance, and basic-resource firms for environmental damage. Composite scores based on equal weights hence misrepresent CSP and the difference in CSR between sectors.

You can read “The Weighting of CSR Dimensions: One Size Does Not Fit All” from Business & Society free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from Business & SocietyClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

During the month of April, you can access 1.5 million article across SAGE Publishing’s 940+ journals for free–how? Sign up here for free trial access!

*Highrise image credited to Sonny Abesamis (CC)

gunther_IMG_20150922_164249_b41bfe265c.jpgGunther Capelle-Blancard (PhD, University of Paris 1) is professor of economics at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and research fellow at the Centre d’Economie de la Sorbonne and Labex RéFi (Regulation financière). His research examines socially responsible investment, corporate social performance, and financial market regulation. His articles have appeared in such journals as Business Ethics: A European Review, European Financial Management Journal, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, and Journal of Investing.

Aurélien Petit

Aurélien Petit (PhD, University of Paris 1) is research fellow at the Centre d’Economie de la Sorbonne. His research interests focus on corporate social responsibility and information disclosure strategies.

Special Issue on Assessment in Management Education!

college-241663-mDo students learn what their professors intend them to learn? What are the challenges associated with effective utilization of rubrics? What is the status of assessment in management education? Journal of Management Education‘s explores these questions and more in their special issue on Assessment in Management Education.

Tracy H. Sigler and Kenneth S. Rhee, both of Northern Kentucky University, collaborated on the guest editorial entitled “Unlocking Learning: Discovering the Keys to Effective Assessment” which introduced the issue:

Welcome to the Journal of Management Education (JME) JME_72ppiRGB_powerpointspecial issue on Assessment in Management Education. We have talked about the importance of this topic for years and are happy to present a special issue to help our readers think critically about the “what, why, and how” of assessment. Assessment is a reality of life for management educators, but the ideal assessment plan can be quite elusive. Historically we can identify both effective and ineffective uses of assessment…

Journal of Management Education‘s special issue on Assessment in Management Education also includes sections dedicated to research on the use and effectiveness of rubrics as well as study of new approaches to assessment. Click here to access the table of contents! Don’t want to miss out on all the latest from Journal of Management Education? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!


Do We Know Enough About Emotion in Organizations to Teach About It?

silhouettes-231425_640Interest in the emotion in organizations has steadily grown over the last few years. We’re pleased to highlight Janine L. Bowen’s article, “Emotion in Organizations: Resources for Business Educators” found in the February edition of Journal of Management Education.

The abstract:

The study of emotion in organizations has advanced considerably in JME_72ppiRGB_powerpointrecent years. Several aspects of this research area make calls for its translation into business curricula particularly compelling. First, potential benefits to students are significant. Second, important contributions to this scholarship often come from the classroom. Third, emotions are part of the learning process and, when aroused, improve learning and retention. Finally, given that the study of emotion in organizations has become central to our understanding of behavior at work, it is simply time to integrate current scholarly research into education and practice. For all these reasons, this article has two aims: to introduce business educators to the domain of emotion in organizations for classroom use and to provide teaching resources to those starting to integrate emotion into existing courses. References are provided for further reading where discussion is necessarily abbreviated. Encouragement for greater participation in the scholarship of teaching and learning in this area is also provided.

Creative Problem Solving for Marketers

Editor’s note: We’re pleased to welcome Minna-Maarit Jaskari of the University of Vaasa, Finland, whose article “The Challenge of Assessing Creative Problem Solving in Client-Based Marketing Development Projects: A SOLO Taxonomy Approach” is forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing Education and now available in the journal’s OnlineFirst section.

pullquoteMy paper is about assessing creativity in student work. I work in marketing and business, and we see creativity and innovativeness as extremely important for business. My own interest lies in understanding consumers and providing value creation opportunities for customers. Marketers often need to be creative in order to provide value for customers. This is why we see it is important to teach creativity and creative problem solving in marketing.

JME(D)_72ppiRGB_150pixwAlso, from the pedagogical research we know that students tend to learn things they are assessed about. Indeed, if we want to teach creativity, we need to assess it as well. However, this is not easy. Indeed, we quickly need to start thinking, what is creativity in the marketing and business context? In my paper I have focused on creative problem solving. Creativity itself is not enough; in business, we need to be able to implement it and create a marketing concept around it.

My paper focuses on analyzing a very interesting tool, SOLO taxonomy for marketing contexts. The background of the taxonomy goes into cognitive thinking and deep understanding. I have proposed a framework to assess creative problem solving in the marketing context. Such frameworks have not been established to date.

The most surprising result for me was that creativity tied with usefulness really occurred in the higher level of understanding. Even if we know from the literature that creativity requires hard work, this analysis proved the same. For me as a teacher, it gives assurance to actively require students to work hard. Also, the highest level of understanding — the extended abstract level — is actually quite difficult to achieve, if not enhanced by the teacher. The school context is difficult, as in that level the students need to put a lot of effort into their work. And as we know, sometimes the real challenge for the teacher is to motivate the students to work hard, even harder than required.

I hope that marketing educators see the value of SOLO taxonomy in enhancing deep, relational understanding. This is what we should aim for in higher education. Future research could analyze the use of SOLO in other than client-based projects, such as case studies or learning portfolios.

Read “The Challenge of Assessing Creative Problem Solving in Client-Based Marketing Development Projects: A SOLO Taxonomy Approach” online in the Journal of Marketing Education.

Teaching Business Students to Think Effectively

Editor’s note: We are pleased to welcome Dr. Gerald F. Smith, Professor of Management at the University of Northern Iowa College of Business Administration. His article, “Assessing Business Student Thinking Skills,” is forthcoming in the Journal of Management Education and now available in the journal’s OnlineFirst section.

UntitledMy paper tries to provide a substantive account of thinking skills that can inform their effective teaching.  Although it was written for and published in a management teaching journal, most of the paper’s contents apply to higher education in general.

In writing this paper, I was motivated by dissatisfaction with the very superficial way in which higher order thinking has been conceptualized and taught, in business schools and elsewhere.  The fact that very few students who graduate from college can think effectively is, in my opinion, explained in large part by our simplistic accounts of “critical thinking” and consequently ineffectual efforts to develop student thinking skills.  The article’s contents are based on my teaching and extensive research on higher order thinking.

IJME_72ppiRGB_150pixW don’t think it’s easy to develop students’ critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making skills, but I hope this article inspires faculty, in business schools and elsewhere, to engage more seriously in the teaching of substantive thinking skills, both in dedicated thinking skills courses and across the curriculum.

Read the article, “Assessing Business Student Thinking Skills,” online in the Journal of Management Education, and click here to learn more about the journal.