From Advocacy to Accountability in Experiential Learning Practices

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Sarah Wright of the University of Canterbury, Jeanie M. Forray of Western New England University, and Kathy Lund Dean of Gustavus Adolphus College. They recently published an article in Management Learning entitled “From advocacy to accountability in experiential learning practices,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they briefly discuss the motivations for and challenges of this research:]

What motivated you to pursue this research?

The motivation for our research emerged from our observations of student reactions to mismanaged facilitation of experiential exercises in the classroom. We have witnessed our students have quite adverse reactions to classroom exercises that we were not prepared for, nor trained to manage. We started to look for ethical guidance and were surprised by the lack of information for educators on best practices for experiential educators. Unlike research where methods are vetted before data is collected, educators can employ any teaching method with students based on the understanding that educators are competent in that learning environment. We were also perplexed how business schools are increasingly advocating for experiential education, but don’t seem to be balancing this advocacy with training opportunities for educators. So our motivation was borne out of curiosity and concern for student welfare.

Were there any specific external events—political, social, or economic—that influenced your decision to pursue this research?

A single event sparked this research paper. I was sitting in my office, when I became aware that a large number of students were congregating in the corridor looking for information. They were first year students on a scavenger hunt to find information about university procedures. I heard a student become audibly upset; she was concerned that she could not find “the right answers” and would be penalised on her course grade. Other students rallied around her to help and they went back to class. At the end of the scavenger hunt the faculty deemed the scavenger hunt a success, yet the students were never given the opportunity to debrief nor voice their concerns over the experience. At the time of the incident we (the 3 authors) discussed the ethics of having students do exercises/experiences and not being fully debriefed, which expanded into conversations about what types of experiences are low/high-risk and what level of competence do we need to facilitate these experiences.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?

We were really surprised that this issue hasn’t been addressed before now. The layers of assumptions behind educator competence really surprises us each time we discuss our research – we are expected to be competent at experiential education when no formal system exists to vet our competence.

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Writing as ‘skin’: Negotiating the body in(to) learning about the managed self

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Deborah N. Brewis of the University of Bath and Eley Williams of the University of London. They recently published an article in Management Learning entitled “Writing as skin: Negotiating the body in(to) learning about the managed self,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they briefly describe the inspiration for this research:]

One makes a braille of our hide, and attempt to interpret its textures and scry it haptic mimicry and pantomime of feeling…

Eley and I met and became friends by chance four years ago at the Feminist and Women’s Studies Association conference as I overheard her talking about the town that I had recently moved to, and that she grew up in. Serendipity plays a large part in interdisciplinary collaborations, even when moments of connection are helped along by seeking out such spaces.

We were inspired to explore together how research writing can be challenged, stretched, and reshaped to do more; specifically to struggle with bringing the body into scholarly writing. I had been fascinated with ‘haptic visuality’ and the communication of embodiment in film (Marks 2000, Sobchak 2004). I had also read Eley’s creative writing and had been affected by its rich, sometimes overwhelming, exploration of relationality: her playfulness with words show the frustration and delight involved as we wrestle with language to communicate our inner worlds to others.

We started to explore the notion that writing could be skin-like: a negotiating surface that is inscribed on, scarred, by the world around it, but also expressive of an inner reality; resistant and fleshy. In the process of conducting and writing research, we are pulled in different directions that draw us away and toward our bodies: we seek to abstract concepts, norms and patterns from our data, and yet many of us also seek to communicate nuance, and contradictions within them that are often tied into deeply personal realities. As we talked and wrote and elicited feedback from others, the qualities of human skin, both physical and the meanings attached to it culturally and historically, provided a metaphor almost too rich for our purposes that we (suitably for a project on skin) needed to contain. So, we focused on three properties of skin as tools to facilitate thinking through how the text can be allowed to be more experiential, without being consumed by the body:

– Porosity: to explore ways in which the scientific academic text can be pierced at different moments to let experiences, sensations, and subjectivity permeate.

– Sense-ability: to craft the texture of the writing to communicate at both cognitive and embodied levels with the reader; eliciting physical response and memories.

– Palimpsest: to make visible the layers that form the text including the work of others, collaboration, and academic institutions and processes; but also our own half-thoughts.

We engaged in a critical-creative experiment by working together across disciplines and by including both art and research by others in discussing how skin has offered critique and insight. In another gift of serendipity, we received some evocative photographs from Anni Skilton at Medical Illustration at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, inspired by the piece and that now accompany it, enhancing what we call its ‘aeffectiveness’. In this piece, we wanted to show and not just describe how skin-writing can enrich research in management and organisation studies. We hope that others will find skinfulness useful in findings ways in which scholarly writing can stretch and touch and show its vulnerability.

Marks, L. U. (2000). The skin of the film: Intercultural cinema, embodiment, and the senses. Duke University Press.

Sobchack, V. (2004). Carnal thoughts: Embodiment and moving image culture. Univ of California Press.

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Award-Winning Journal of Management Education Article on Business Studios

2016 Roethlisberger Award WinnerWe are pleased to congratulate Stefan Meisiek of University of Sydney and Daved Barry of Jönköping International Business School , who received the Fritz Roethlisberger Memorial Award for 2016 with their article, “Discovering the Business Studio,” published in the February 2015 issue of Journal of Management Education. 

The Fritz Roethlisberger Memorial Award commemorates Fritz Roethlisberger’s devotion to inquiry and learning. Fritz Roethlisberger helped pioneer the Human Relations School of Management as a human-centric alternative to Taylorist management. The Human Relations School has strongly informed the recent global push towards business humanities education. The Fritz Roethlisberger Memorial Award is granted to authors judged to have contributed the best paper on teaching and learning in organizational and management sciences published in the Journal of Management Education during the previous year.

The abstract for the paper:

Over the past decade, numerous business schools have begun experimenting with studio-based inquiry, often drawing inspiration from professional studios used within art and design schools and from business and governmental studios used for problem-solving and innovation. Business school studios vary considerably in form, ranging from temporary “pop up” studios to dedicated facilities with full-time JMEstaff, with the primary purpose of educating managers in craft, art, and design-based approaches to business problems. The jury on the studio phenomenon is out—can they deliver on their educational promise? To address this question, we pull together 25 years of studio experimentation in multiple settings, visits, and observations of studios around the world and interviews with studio makers from various disciplines. We consider the question of “what is a business studio?” in some detail, conjecture about the value that studios might have for management education, provide examples of four different business studio orientations and how these might translate into practice, and highlight what we believe to be some essentials when starting and running a business studio.

You can read the award-winning article “Discovering the Business Studio” free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from Journal of Management EducationClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

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A Visual Approach to Professional Communication

[We’re pleased to welcome Deborah C. Andrews of University of Delaware, author of the article “Making the Familiar Strange: Thinking Visually in a Study Abroad Course in Professional Communication,” published in Business and Professional Communication Quarterly.]9262075767_a9711e023b_z

Today’s intensely international, multimedia marketplace for communication places a premium on design thinking and collaboration. Such thinking has been fostered for years in art and architecture programs, which feature a studio approach to solving problems and making art.  As I’ve pursued my current research on how—or whether–21st century workspaces can be designed to foster innovation, I’ve collaborated with colleagues in architecture and design and become more aware of how they teach. Visits to professional design studies and other workspaces have also made me aware of how creating communication products is an experimental, interactive, iterative, dynamic, flexible process, much like play. Visual thinking is key, especially embracing the role of text in a visual environment of messages. My observations are confirmed by professional writer, who tell us that they depend increasingly on visual thinking and design skills to compose successful messages. University courses in professional communication, however, rarely cultivate a studio atmosphere or approach visual skills at any more than a superficial level. In this article, I describe a short course BPCQ.inddin visual communication for American undergraduate art students, taught in London by a colleague and in which I participated for three years. It provides an attractive model for bridging the gap between pedagogy and practice in professional communication, opening students’ eyes while at the same time inviting them to enjoy the game.

The abstract:

Business and professional communicators increasingly rely on visual thinking and design strategies to create effective messages. The workplace need for such thinking, however, is not readily accommodated in current pedagogy. A long-running study abroad short course for American students taught in London provides a model for meeting this need. Addressed to students in art and design and framed through principles of discovery learning, the course approach and assignments can be productively adapted to enhance the visual competence of students of professional communication.

You can read Making the Familiar Strange: Thinking Visually in a Study Abroad Course in Professional Communication” from Business and Professional Communication Quarterly free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from Business and Professional Communication Quarterly? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Presentation image credited to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (CC)


Deborah AndrewsDeborah C. Andrews is a professor emerita of English at the University of Delaware. She has published textbooks and articles about professional communication, especially internationally. Her current research is on how—or whether—the physical environment of a workspace can be designed to foster entrepreneurial or scientific innovation through effective communication.

A New Method for Judging the Quality of Experiential Learning

[We’re pleased to welcome Makoto Matsuo of Hokkaido University. Dr. Matsuo recently published an article entitled, “A Framework for Facilitating Experiential Learning,” in the December 2015 issue of Human Resource Development Review.]


  • What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

Kolb’s (1984) Experiential Learning Model has been very popular and widely used in various research fields. However, I have never seen any literatures regarding the systematic models on facilitators of experiential learning, which made me very curious about knowing what kinds of individual capabilities that determine the quality of experiential learning, which has been known to have a strong impact on adult development.

  • Were there findings that were surprising to you?

Based on the Kolb’s Model, I developed the framework by integrating different perspectives in several research fields. The framework has a multilayered structure. That is, ‘learning goal orientation’ and ‘developmental network’ are fundamental elements, which influence three other factors: ‘setting difficult goal’, ‘critical reflection’, and ‘enjoyment of work’ in facilitating experiential learning. I must say that I have been amazed by my framework–both learning goal orientation and developmental network are equally weighed and no element supersedes another.

  • How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

In theoretical viewpoint, the framework developed in this paper should be further examined with quantitative and qualitative research in the future. Practically, on the other hand, I truly believe that HRD managers will be able to apply this framework in leadership and management development.

You can read “A Framework for Facilitating Experiential Learning” from Human Resource Development Review free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from Human Resource Development Review? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

Makoto Matsuo

Makoto Matsuo is a professor at Hokkaido University. His interests are in experiential learning and human resource development.

Could Smartphones Become a Teaching Tool?

hand-holding-mobile-smart-phone-1417191-mA quick internet search of “smartphone etiquette in class” will give you a fairly straightforward answer: don’t use your phone. But what if instructors could use smartphone technology to their advantage instead? A new article published in Business and Professional Communication Quarterly entitled “Multitasking With Smartphones in the College Classroom” examines the idea of using smartphones to help enhance students’ learning rather than interfere with it.

The abstract:

Although the concept of multitasking itself is under debate, smartphones do enable users to divert attention fromBPCQ.indd the task at hand to nongermane matters. As smartphone use becomes pervasive, extending into our classrooms, educators are concerned that they are becoming a major distraction. Does multitasking with smartphones impede learning? Can they be used to enhance learning instead? This article reviews current literature, provides suggestions for further investigation, and proposes an approach to incorporate smartphone multitasking in the classroom to enhance learning.


Making Peace, Not War, In Games


Eversim’s “Rulers of Nations”
via PAXsims

Editor’s note: The latest issue of Simulation & Gaming is all about using games to reduce violence and promote peace in today’s world. We are pleased to welcome Rex Brynen of McGill University and Gary Milante of the World Bank, who authored the Guest Editorial, “Peacebuilding With Games and Simulations.”

We were delighted to be asked to put together a special symposium on “peace-gaming” (as opposed to war-gaming) in Simulation & Gaming. Our interest in this area comes from our own experiences using games in Untitledteaching and we know there are lots of others using gaming to teach peacebuilding techniques. At the World Bank, Gary uses the CARANA simulation used to teach World Bank staff the skills necessary for assessment, strategic planning, prioritization, and program design in conflict-affected and fragile states. And at McGill, Rex uses the annual BRYNANIA civil war role-playing simulation and other games to teach undergrad and grad students. Together we also coedit the PAXsims blog on conflict simulation, which brings together game-designers, users, students, and practitioners.

s&gWe really enjoyed the breadth of proposals and submissions we received for the special symposium because they reflect a wide spectrum of how gaming can be used to learn about peace-building in the classroom (virtual or otherwise).  It was interesting to see how people interpreted our original call for proposals – we discuss this a bit in our overview piece.  For example, there are good examples of how games are used to teach conflict management and resolution skills and how these games are used to teach about actual conflicts and current affairs.  There are very abstract games that reduce these complex problems into simple quandaries that can be played in a few hours and complicated peacegames that can last for multiple sessions.  There are online games and tabletop games, using pen and paper.  This reflects a lot of the creativity used to convey complex concepts through these games.

We hope that the symposium gives a good overview of the current state of knowledge on this topic.  We are at an interesting crossroads, in a sense, in that the the practice is deciding whether to embrace the high tech approaches of online platforms and virtual worlds, in which there can be a lot of computational power or the “low tech” approaches of “in person” gaming which can provide a lot of insights, but don’t deliver the bells and whistles or, admittedly, the immersive scale that virtual platforms can offer.  We may be biased, but hopefully we’ve done the whole spectrum justice in the symposium and look forward to seeing the discussion and research that follows out of it.

Click here to access the Guest Editorial, “Peacebuilding With Games and Simulations,” in the latest issue of Simulation & Gaming.

UntitledRex Brynen is a professor of Political Science at McGill University, and author, editor, or coeditor of 11 books on conflict and development in the Middle East. He is coeditor of the PAXsims website on conflict simulation (

milante_garyGary Milante, PhD, is an economist for the World Bank working on various aspects of development in the presence of conflict and fragility, and has co-led development of the CARANA simulation used in operations courses at the Bank. He is coeditor of the PAXsims website on conflict simulation (