Designing a Human Resource Management Simulation to Engage Students

[Professors Andrea North-Samardzic of Deakin University Victoria and Marlize de Witt of the University of Waikato recently published a research article in the Journal of Management Education which is entitled “Designing a Human Resource Management Simulation to Engage Students“. We are delighted to welcome them as contributors, and their article will be free to read for a limited time. Below they reveal the inspirations and influences behind their research.]


What motivated you to pursue this research?

I wanted to use a simulation in my classes but couldn’t find one that fit my needs as well as being proven to lead to positive student outcomes. So in the grand tradition of ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ I created one myself.

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

I thought that the students who navigated the software in the simulation program would find it more engaging. But the findings showed that we have tremendous capacity to create new and interesting simulations in traditional learning management systems. You don’t always need new and shiny technology to engage students.

The biggest challenge was finding students to participate in the lab tests and focus group. We can’t provide credit to students for research participation.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

The roadmap we provide for designing, developing and testing the simulation will hopefully inspire others to create their own simulations. Buying software licenses can be expensive. So why not create your own and test it to show how and why it works?

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

There was a lot more attention to design science in the earlier drafts. I was a bit too hung up on this and it took awhile for my co-author to convince me to let it go. Kathi Lovelace was also an incredible editor and helped us with really refining the contribution too and advising us on what to play down and what to emphasise.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?

Make sure you share your work with others in development stages and rewrites no matter how rough the drafts or embryonic the ideas. If things get stuck, you may like to bring on another person as a co-author. I tried to publish the work as a sole author but it didn’t quite hit the mark. Working with Marlize to rewrite and reposition the paper made the world of difference.

Also it took a long time to bring this article to publication. That’s ok. Hang in there. Scholarship is a marathon, not a sprint.

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

Kathy Lund Dean and Jeanie M. Forray’s editorial ‘Teaching and Learning in an Age of (In)credulity: Facts and “Alternative Facts” in the Classroom’ really spoke to me even though they said some things I didn’t necessarily want to hear at first. It has lead me to do a lot of critical self-reflection about my role as educator and ‘expert’ in the room and how I need to adapt to better address current concerns. For me, a great piece of scholarship not only makes you think about the topic but makes you think about yourself.

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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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