For certain courses, I use presentations as a form of assessment, e.g., HRM, Motivation & Work Behaviour, Leadership courses, etc. For these courses, students present a coursework project that they have worked on for the semester. Given the large class sizes for some of these courses, students are required to present for only 5 minutes on their findings and recommendations.
For these presentations, I actively encourage students to be creative. No doubt, ‘professional’ presentations are useful, and give students experience presenting in a business style. In fact, many of our management courses already focus on professional/business style presentations, e.g., Business Communication, Business Strategy & Policy, etc.. However, I take a slightly different approach to professional presentations by asking students to think outside of the box when creating their presentations. In my personal experiences, students are not given enough opportunities to be creative, and this is one way I nurture their creativity. The results speak for themselves. Here are some examples of interesting presentations in class:
For a graduate course, each session is seminar-led by students. To gauge students’ participation, I previously used to evaluate in-class participation only. However, using this approach would result in students, who suffered from social anxiety, receiving few marks. To address this issue I implemented the use of reflective journals. Here, students are expected to either log their participation in class and/or log their reflection in class. I would often provide a question to stimulate their reflection. For instance, during Carnival week, I asked students to think about a ‘strategic job’ at a ‘business place’ that they wined on (or imagined themselves wining on). Below is a snippet from the journal.
Also, here are two examples in which I required students to be critical thinkers via the use of evidence-based management.
A valuable lesson that I learnt that will stick with me is to be conscious of situations where I can apply an evidence-based approach. One such instance where I have started applying this is at work. My team members always share anecdotes of history, some factual, some opinionated and as I have no clue as to what they are talking about, I have started looking online and reading up on history to know if what they are saying is indeed factual. One particular topic that arose was the envoy sent by the United Nations to mediate the dispute between Guyana and Venezuela in 1990. His name was Sir Alister McIntyre. I was struck by his name because a new member of our team’s last name is McIntyre so I then had assumptions that he might be his son. I went looking for further evidence to support my theory and found that Sir Alister McIntyre was a pioneer at the University of the West Indies and I remember my co-worker stating he wanted to visit the campus because his dad did a lot of work there. I still have not drawn any conclusions but I will on Monday when I return to work and ask some more questions to support/dismiss my theory. Also, I can see why Scholars are passionate about evidence in their field. It becomes exciting to find out new things and have your theories supported.
This class dealt with the topic – Evidence Based HRM. Evidence based HRM can be defined as the process of critically identifying and employing HR interventions and approaches that have the strongest basis of empirical support for attaining desired outcomes. I have learned the importance of obtaining independent, objective and tested supporting evidence to practices and procedures that are performed on a daily basis. This is necessary as I may be doing the wrong thing over and over.
For example, I have been told by my mother and other persons that cow’s milk is bad for the health of my children for many varied reasons. So I decided to determine whether there were any studies or evidence to support this claim. My research so far as revealed the following Based on the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition:
- There are no negative effects of cow’s milk on the child over the age of twelve months where daily intake is maintained at the optimal of 500 ml.
- The connection between cow’s milk and autism spectrum disorders is lacking
- A cause-effect relation with type 1 diabetes mellitus has not been established.
- Allergy to cow’s milk is usually temporary.
- Lactose intolerance can be easily managed by consuming up to 250 ml daily.
On the other hand, the study showed that cow’s milk represents a major source of protein of high nutritional quality and calcium.
Conclusion: From this cursory review, I have learnt the importance of conducting my own investigation and appraisal of information presented to me on a daily basis.
Summary on Use of Journals
The actual journal entries far exceeded my expectations and clearly showcase students adoption of a critical mindset. Not only are the journal entries rich in content, but students have been creatively using memes and drawings to supplement their reflections.
Workshops with Student Peer Review
Student peer review is becoming increasingly popular as a means to tap into students critical thinking and higher level learning. Research shows that students value peer review and that it can significantly improve students’ performance (Raoul et al. 2012, Lundstrom and Baker 2009). In light of these outcomes, I use peer review for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses via the Workshop feature in Moodle. For these Workshops, students are required to critically evaluate their own work, as well as their peers’ work via the use of a rubric. Therefore, students are graded not just on their submission, but also on the quality of their peer review of others submissions. For more on how Moodle Workshops work click here.
Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ)
I use multiple choice quizzes as a way to test students’ memory and understanding. The questions all test analysis (AACSB standards). The test itself is conducted online (Moodle), and each question is randomly chosen from a pool of questions. Each pool of questions cover the same topic and contain questions of similar difficulty. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that two students will receive the same exam, but all exams will cover the same topics and be of similar difficulty. Once the quiz closes, students are immediately provided with the scores and feedback on their responses. Based on past experiences in using MCQs, I supplement the exam with the following:
- Kahoot! practice questions in class when covering topics.
- “Boss Battles” at the end of each lesson. These “Boss Battles” are essentially practice true/false questions that help students prepare for the actual quiz. Students receive points for participating in boss battles, which then adds to their “Level” in a course. These “Boss Battles” were added based on students’ feedback.
- After the quiz, I discuss the most problematic questions in class.
For most courses, students are required to answer at least one case study question for the final exam. The purpose of the case study question is to help students tie their knowledge to a real-life situation. In class, case study discussions are used to aid students in their understanding of how to apply the material learned to a real-life organization or scenario.
For most courses, students are required to answer at least one essay question in a final exam. The essay questions are usually broad enough so that students can discuss at length their understanding of the topic.
Weekly Thought Papers
As a means of formative assessment, I require students of certain courses to submit weekly thought papers (typically 3 or 4 thought papers. The thought papers require students to provide a description of things they liked, disliked or thought could be done differently. So, their thought papers could begin with a question, a criticism or a problem, an alternative interpretation of experiments, or a suggestion for follow-up experiments. Students are provided with the structure, words/phrases to include and avoid, and the marking scheme. At the end of each thought paper, students are then given feedback in order to improve on their next submission. See sample thought papers here.
Student Learning Portfolio (SLP)
For a newly developed course, I have introduced student learning portfolios in order to assess students’ learning experience throughout the course. The SLP is a flexible tool that is intended to capture students’ intellectual development and academic skills in leadership communication. As such, the SLP contains evidence of both improvement and assessment of students’ learning. Students must focus on the process of learning, identify gaps in their learning, and use formative feedback to respond to these gaps, and thus demonstrate growth in particular areas of learning. Accordingly, development of the portfolio is both challenging and rewarding. The end-result of the SLP is a concise, well-organized portfolio detailing the learning that has taken place throughout the course. The SLP consists of weekly self-evaluations, and students are provided with a format to follow.
For a newly developed course, students are required to submit a self-reflective essay. A self-reflective essay requires students to take a deep look at themselves with respect to the course content. For the self-reflective essay, students are required to describe their experiences during the course and how it has changed specified knowledge, skills, and/or abilities (KSAs). In summary, the self-reflective essay should give students a clear idea of how the course has affected their KSAs, and thus what progress has been made during the course. Students are required to keep a personal journal and take notes during and/or after each class. Keeping notes of learning experiences and critical self-assessment will help students to develop their essays in a meaningful way.