Active Learning Based on
Student Career Aspirations
Presented by Patrick J. Lyons, St. John's
Fourth International Business, Economics, Environment and
Education Summer Symposium, Iona College, June 20, 2009.
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"What Fifty Said" by Robert Frost
Students today want to develop critical
thinking and communication skills necessary to be successful in business.
They seek class environments where they
can not only obtain knowledge, but also learn to apply that knowledge to
situations meaningful to their future careers.
This paper presents an active learning environment (CALOPS)
developed for an undergraduate operations management course based on
the career aspirations of each individual student.
- Auster and Wylie (2006) active learning
framework - four dimensions of the teaching process:
Establishing norms, expectations, and
ground rules (Bonwell & Eison, 1991).
Exercise 1 - using a career
interest inventory to determine a realistic career
Exercise 2 - finding an actual job
opportunity consistent with their realistic career
Exercise 3 - finding information
about the organization offering the job opportunity
Exercise 4 - formulating their
career strategy for the next five years.
Unlike lecture, which focuses primarily on content, preparation for active
learning requires attention to both content and process.
Content - traditional class website
Course outline -
Class discussion outlines -
Class Participation Action Item (CPAI)
Modify Word document -
Submittal Form -
Managing class participation effectively is an important element of class
delivery (Auster & Wylie, 2006).
Ensure well distributed
“air time” (Bonwell & Eison, 1991; Keyser, 2000; McKeachie, 1999)
Draw on student experience (Gross Davis, 1993;
McKeachie, 1999; Meyers & Jones, 1993).
CPAI - primary in-class activity is a short
informal role play about how the student will apply a selected course topic
to a realistic future work situation consistent with his/her career
Student sits in desk next to professor.
Student and professor have short informal role
playfollowing Word document.
beginning of semester, professor follows outline
Later, professor discusses
topic and future work situation with chosen student, but asks
class for application and improvement in operations.
Application of Operations Management Presentation -
expanded version of CPAI.
Helps students answer
open-ended job interview questions, such as, “In the next year or two, how
might you help us improve our organization?”
Based on case interview technique used by major
consulting firms, where interviewee is given case situation and asked to
solve a strategic question.
See McKinsey & Company website
Modify PowerPoint -
Modify Excel -
Primary input is feedback from
Quick verbal checks
Class discussion outlines facilitate quick
Class following discussion of a given chapter
begins with brief review.
If no questions, then professor can be proactive and ask a few questions to
obtain appropriate feedback.
CPAIs may be used for feedback.
Especially when used in the volleyball (not ping pong) mode.
Professor discusses topic and future work
situation with a chosen student, but asks the
class for volunteers to discuss the application and improvement in
This checks not only knowledge of topic, but also ability to apply it.
- End-of-term evaluations -
anonymous paper-based form
Career exercises - 35
13 saying that career exercises reinforced their existing career plans,
22 said they gained new insights into career options.
CPAIs helpful in understanding application of
6 students felt they could learn to apply course
topics without CPAIs,
29 students felt that CPAIs were helpful.
Some did list topics they felt they will apply in their future careers.
Application of Operations Management presentation,
26 students felt they did improve their skill in
performing a cost effectiveness analysis,
3 felt they did not improve, and
6 did not respond.
because students found it straightforward and relatively easy
to create and submit CPAIs, other faculty should consider creating similar
exercises for their courses.
basing CPAIs on each individual student’s career aspirations increases
student motivation and should be considered when updating courses.
effort to create the CPAI file is well worth the improvement in class
When students hear how others will apply course topics to future work
situations, the other students gain more insight into application of
operations management to business and become more engaged in the class.
Auster, E. R. & Wylie, K. K.
(2006). Creating Active Learning in the Classroom: A Systematic
Journal of Management Education: Vol. 30,
No. 2, pp 333-353.
Bonwell, C. C., & Eison, J.A.
Active learning: Creating excitement in the classroom.
Washington, DC: George Washington University ERIC Clearinghouse on
Gross Davis, B. (1993).
for teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Holland, J. L. (1994) Self-Directed Search, Form R, 4th
ed. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.
Keyser, M. W. (2000).
Active learning and cooperative learning: Understanding the difference
and using both styles effectively.
Strategies, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp 35-44
McKeachie,W. J. (1999).
Teaching tips: Strategies, research and theory for college and
university teachers. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Meyers, C., and T.B. Jones.
Promoting Active Learning: Strategies for the College Classroom.
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
McKinsey & Company, (2008)
retrieved Jun 18, http://www.mckinsey.com/careers/how_do_i_apply/how_to_do_well_in_the_interview/caseCareer-based_interview.aspx.
- Links to My Presentation and Article
Active Learning Based on
Student Career Aspirations,
(presentation outline) at the Fourth International Business, Economics,
Environment and Education Summer Symposium, Iona College, June 20, 2009.
"Active Learning Based
on Student Career Aspirations",
(formal paper) to appear in the
Proceedings of the Fourth International Business, Economics, Environment and
Education Summer Symposium, Jun 20, 2009.
(This page was last edited on
June 12, 2009