Archive for the ‘engagement’ Category

NSSE_LogoFollowing are some of my thoughts about engagement and what it means for a college of business.   I presented these thoughts a couple of years ago at a conference.   Here is a summary:

“Engagement” in a college of business is an often misunderstood term.   This stems from the fact that there are three dominant perspectives on how engagement is conceptualized and viewed within the business school – (1) community engagement (Carnegie Foundation), (2) student engagement (National Survey of Student Engagement), and (3) faculty engagement (AACSB).

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching awards a community engagement classification to qualifying institutions of higher learning.   As of 2012, three hundred and eleven (311) U.S. colleges and universities were designated  with the Community Engagement Classification.   Carnegie defines community engagement as

“ … the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.”

In order to be selected, institutions must provide descriptions and examples of established practices of community engagement that show alignment among mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices.   The notion of a mutually beneficial partnership is at the heart of the Carnegie Foundation’s concept of engagement.

The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) assesses collegiate quality by estimating how undergraduate students spend their time inside and outside the classroom.   Through an annual survey of hundreds of colleges and universities, the NSSE estimates how undergraduates spend their time and what they gain from attending college.   The NSSE ultimately measures student engagement through five Benchmarks of Effective Educational Practice:

  1. level of academic challenge
  2. active and collaborative learning
  3. student-faculty interaction
  4. enriching educational experiences
  5. supportive campus environment

Institutions use their data to identify aspects of the undergraduate experience inside and outside the classroom that can be improved through changes in policies and practices more consistent with good practices in undergraduate education.

AACSB International, the organization best known for overseeing accreditation for undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral programs in business and accounting, strives to identify challenges and trends that are facing the business education industry through its research and initiatives.   In 2011, the Blue Ribbon Committee (BRC) on AASCB Accreditation Quality was charged to conduct a review of AACSB accreditation standards and processes.  The BRC identified “encourage an appropriate balance of academic and professional engagement consistent with quality in the context of a school’s mission” as one of five critical issues is business school accreditation.  The BRC stated that AACSB standards have consistently promoted an academic focus, but have not adequately addressed engagement with practice and also suggested placing a stronger emphasis on interaction among students and faculty in an academic setting.     Engagement, as specified by the AACSB, is ultimately assessed through faculty engagement whereby

“Engagement should be addressed as a portfolio, and is embedded in the interaction between participants, including academic and professionally qualified faculty, who are engaged in scholarship and teaching. Furthermore, engagement should be addressed across multiple dimensions of quality—students, faculty, curriculum, pedagogy, etc.—and consistent with the mission of the school.”

I hope that my thoughts help.

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe


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Experiential-Learning-Chart-300x200Experiential learning, often referred to as “Learn by Doing”, focuses on hands on learning inside and outside the classroom.   Recently, Deans at two prominent business schools have emphasized the importance of experiential learning.

Nitin Nohria, Dean of the Harvard Business School, recently wrote an article entitled “What Business Schools Can Learn from the Medical Profession”.  He states:

“The clinical experience gained by fledgling doctors is an ideal example of how professional schools address the “knowing-doing gap.”  To give MBA students a dose of real-world experience, HBS is introducing its biggest curriculum change in nearly 90 years. Students in our Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development program will engage in practice-oriented activities throughout the year. This work has begun on campus, where students have been taking product development workshops and crafting investment pitches. But the program’s most ambitious aspect starts in January 2012, when HBS will send the entire first-year class—more than 900 students—abroad to developing markets, where they will work in teams of six with a multinational or a local company to develop a new product or service offering.

Our goal is not only to enhance the experience of our students but to improve management pedagogy. That is what HBS did with the case study method, which is now used universally. It’s time to do the same with managerial field training. Our commitment is to learn how the experience should be structured, what role the faculty should play, and what company support is required, in order to develop a method that other institutions can embrace.”

At the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, Dean Alison Davis-Blake wrote about the virtues of experiential learning in the article ‘Learn by Doing Across the Globe’.

This is an exciting week at Ross as we kick off our 2014 MAP team projects. That means that more than 450 first-year MBAs are heading out to tackle real business challenges with nearly 90 companies and organizations in more than 20 different countries. They will spend seven weeks working side-by-side with some of the top practitioners in fields such as marketing, healthcare, manufacturing, and nonprofit management. Companies and organizations including Amazon, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Kraft, ICIC Bank, World Wildlife Fund, and many more around the world will put our teams to work on projects from new market entry to digital banking to supply chain strategy.

The MAP experience integrates and applies the lessons our students have learned in the classroom and is a hallmark of our focus on action-based learning.

Clearly experiential learning is an important emphasis in the world’s leading business schools.   What role does it play at your university?

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

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Gordon-Gee-Ohio-State-2009-304Gordon Gee, President of Ohio State University, announced his retirement at age 69 after making a series of ‘humorous’ gaffs at the expense of  Roman Catholic priests, Notre Dame, the academic quality of schools in the Southeastern Conference, and the academic integrity of the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky.   Clearly, there is no excuse for Gee’s weak attempts at humor and his resignation is in order.

It was noteworthy, however, that as recently as 2010, Time Magazine selected Gee as the top university president in the United States.  I have spent the past couple of days reading about Gee.   Here are some of my leadership findings:

1) “Being president of a major public university is the most political nonpolitical office around.  We’re campaigning on behalf of our mission.”  University leaders must make a point of being visible with their stakeholders.   Connect with your audience.   Clearly state the university’s mission.  Be enthusiastic.

2) Most university presidents are focused on internal issues — the tug-of-war among faculty, students and alums — and they don’t have the bandwidth to see how extensive their influence should be.”   University leaders must expand their influence.   The university is a force for positive change.

3)  No elected official more carefully orchestrates a calendar. A typical planning session finds Gee hatching plans to stroke every conceivable constituency in the course of a single week.   Carefully plan your calendar.  Maximize your interaction with stakeholders.

4) We make no apologies for working to ensure that our graduates have the skills needed to thrive. Learning to think critically need not conflict with learning to work productively.”    Stand up for what you believe in.   Offer the win/win.

5) “Through it all, one thing was abundantly clear to me. At this moment, we at Ohio State have great privilege, great responsibility, and great opportunity. I will explain each of those in turn.”      I believe that any university leader must express its mission and values through the lens of privilege, responsibility and opportunity.   Sign me up.

Perhaps Gordon Gee’s tenure as university president is over.   He served as president of West Virginia University, University of Colorado, Brown University, Vanderbilt University and Ohio State University (twice).   On one hand, there is much to learn about university leadership from this man.  On the other hand, there is a cautionary tale here about one’s ego.

Be bold.   Have a grand vision.   Think with precision.

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

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Intellectual CapitalIt has indeed been my privilege to serve on the Dean’s Search Committee for the past several months. During that time I have learned a tremendous amount about the characteristics of an outstanding business school.  Each Dean candidate has provided us with unique perspectives on what it will require for our business school to achieve its strategic vision.

Based upon our face-to-face meetings with eleven different candidates and multiple discussions with colleagues in both the academic and business communities, I make the following observations:

  1. The collective intellectual capital of a business school’s faculty is, for better or worse, the defining factor of an outstanding business school.
  2. Our business school must aggressively recognize and reward scholarship and the development of intellectual capital as a foundation of its success. The currency of the academic marketplace is the development of intellectual capital.
  3. I believe faculty in our business school have a unique opportunity to broaden the traditional definition of ‘outstanding scholarship’ and to find ways to reward faculty for the development of intellectual capital that is highly relevant to members of the business community and that furthers the ideal of ‘service to others’.

In order to take our school to the ‘next level’, the immediate challenge for the new Dean will be to work with vested constituencies (with perhaps an emphasis on our alumni) to create a broad vision that bridges the gap between the research strengths of the faculty and the greater business community.  In my estimation, the entire business school community must build on this new vision to develop our resource base, to build and expand our academic programs, and to energize our classroom teaching (particularly at the graduate level).

The result of not aggressively emphasizing academic scholarship (i.e. not emphasizing the development of intellectual capital, research) is:

  • Inability to effectively attract and retain faculty talent (the marketplace says that the intellectual capital of a faculty member is what most directly determines their value). This will take place in a world with a looming shortage of business PhD’s.
  • MBA Program: forced to compete at the low end of the market. Why? Faculty will continue to be viewed by students merely as instructors (reactive presenters of others’ concepts) rather than being viewed as sages (proactive developers and presenters of original, peer-reviewed concepts).
  • Inability to grow PhD program and attract chaired professors. There is a direct correlation between ‘top flight’ faculty, their PhD students and the academic reputation of the university. This reputation is built largely on academic scholarship.

Please do not take this memo to suggest that teaching and ‘service to others’ should be relegated to a lower status than research. Rather outstanding classroom teaching and service should be the expectation for all faculty members at our university.

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

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triple bottom line BM-thumb-380x271-thumb-380x271Our most recent Dean candidate offered some interesting insights.  I thought that I would share a few.

  1. What do we mean by ‘engaged learning’  and ‘student focused learning’?   At Cornell University this means to advance academic service-learning, community-based research, and public scholarship across a wide spectrum of academic disciplines and programs.  At Lawrence University it means to create and sustain connections between the academic curriculum and community service.  At SMU is means a capstone-level, student driven research, civic engagement, professional internship or creative work that has clear project and clear personal learning goals.
  2. How would our decisions be different if we considered student success as our top priority?
  3. Do we agree on our ‘tagline’?  We must be on the same page as we move forward.
  4. Fundraising and stewardship of existing gifts.    Stewardship of existing gifts is extremely important.
  5. Must be an advocate for the college.  Internally within the university.  Externally with alumni and friends.   Don’t forget the students!
  6. Globalization.   Who will be your partners?
  7. Triple bottom line ( people, planet, profit) – the new buzz words related to sustainability and the environment.
  8. Thought leadership – how do we leverage this?
  9. Finale – How Do We Create the Future?  Put a proposal together and match it with the right donor.   Build relationships.

Overall I was impressed with this candidate’s ability to articulate their thoughts around academic leadership.   I am always pleased when I can learn a few things.  This candidate was able to ‘bundle’ their accomplishments into four categories: (1) strategic planning, (2) reputation building, (3) development, and (4) accreditation.  Good thinking!

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

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NCCPEIn the United Kingdom there is a movement for research universities to better engage the public. The “Manifesto for Public Engagement”, as defined by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement [NCCPE], is listed below:

We believe that universities and research institutes have a major responsibility to contribute to society through their public engagement, and that they have much to gain in return.

We are committed to sharing our knowledge, resources and skills with the public, and to listening to and learning from the expertise and insight of the different communities with which we engage.

We are committed to developing our approach to managing, supporting and delivering public engagement for the benefit of staff, students and the public, and to sharing what we learn about effective practice.

A study by the UK Innovation Research Centre defines Four Modes of Interactions between Academics and External Organizations. (See: ‘Knowledge Exchange between Academics and Business, Public and Third Sectors,’Maria Abreu, Vadim Grinevich, Alan Hughes and Michael Kitson, uk-irc, (PDF))

People Based Activities

  1. attend conference
  2. participate in networks
  3. give invited lecture
  4. sit on advisory board
  5. assist with student placements
  6. employee training
  7. standard setting forums
  8. curriculum development

Community Based Activities

  1. give lecture for community
  2. school projects
  3. community exhibitions
  4. community-based supports

Problem Solving Activities

  1. informal advice
  2. joint research
  3. joint publication
  4. consultancy
  5. contract research
  6. research consortia
  7. hosting of personnel
  8. protyping and testing

Commercialization Activities

  1. formed consultancy
  2. patent
  3. licensed research
  4. company startup

Public engagement describes the myriad of ways in which the activity and benefits of higher education and research can be shared with the public. Engagement is by definition a two-way process, involving interaction and listening, with the goal of generating mutual benefit.  (See: http://www.publicengagement.ac.uk/what)

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

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