Experiential learning programs and courses are a fixture of most business schools across the world. There has been an increase in the popularity of such programs because they allow students to learn by doing. Experiential learning opportunities not only enforce learning of key business topics, they also give students an opportunity to develop something even more important – soft skills.
The offering of experiential learning opportunities can include tools such as strategic business management simulations and project-based learning initiatives. While the benefits of experiential learning are well documented, assessing students’ learning and mastery of the material can become a challenge.
So how can business schools continue to provide their students with experiential learning opportunities without disregarding their need for accreditation? Let’s explore some recommendations made by the Leaders of Experiential Project-Based Education (LEPE).
Schools should identify a clear set of learning objectives that apply to every program participant. In addition, students should then be required to set at least two personal development goals that must be shared with program coordinators and the rest of their team.
Providing timely and specific feedback allows a team and its members to self-assess their performance, build on what they’re doing right, and correct what they’re doing wrong. In order to compare their current progress to team and personal goals, it’s important for students to receive this feedback throughout the semester.
Reflection and self-awareness, or the understanding of who we are and how we are similar to or different from others, can greatly impact personal development. Students should be provided with tools like multi-source 360-degree assessments or web-based peer reviews so they can evaluate the consistency of their self-view when compared to external sources. Identifying discrepancies in this evaluation can help students define developmental goals.
LEPE recommends that student performance should be measured across three domains. The first domain is the cognitive domain, which deals with learning and adaptation over time. The second domain is the affective domain, which takes into account student satisfaction and commitment. The third domain is the behavioral domain, which refers to the quality and quantity of performance on tasks.
Student experiences can greatly depend on emotions. For example, a difference in views of opinion between team members can escalate to frustration and anger. Emotions should be incorporated into feedback so that students can understand and verbalize them. Incorporating emotions into feedback and improve team dynamics by teaching individuals how to disarm conflict.
According to a recent survey by LEPE, “Eighty-four percent of programs surveyed report that they regularly collect assessment data on how to improve teaching and learning, but only 56% report using assessment data to make changes to their programs.” It’s crucial for educators to learn from their experiences and translate that learning into course improvements.
The Capsim suite of simulations and assessments takes into account recommendations like the ones discussed above to meet the needs of all stakeholders.