Connecting the Management Education Community: MOBTS Oceania

MOBTS, now in its 50th year, is a global learning society and conference focused on enhancing teaching and learning in management and organisational behaviour disciplines.

MOBTS Oceania recently brought together management educators from across and beyond the region to share practice, challenges, opportunities and innovations. The conference was held on Bedegel land and hosted by The University of New South Wales from Jan 31 – Feb 2. Exemplifying MOBTS’ commitment to inclusivity and access, it was held in hybrid mode.

Over the two days we were immersed in activities such as experiencing tasks to hone students’ active listening and communication skills, reflecting on students’ and our own experiences of imposter syndrome, articulating what makes up professional identity – is it who we say we are, or who others say we are? Is it the enactment of our values? Is it being our authentic self?

With the enticing title of Lawnmowers and Peanut Slabs we heard about an innovative experiential activity for introducing management students to the anchoring effect. A further session got us using the 4C’s framework (hot off the press in this new publication) to document our impact as educators. The conference was a great example of going beyond the first three C’s (Classroom, Corridor and Campus) and engaging and contributing at the level of the 4th C – Community!

Sessions were offered to connect participants with the editors of the MOBTS affiliated Journal of Management Education (JME). Many colleagues walked away with a sense of the common pitfalls when submitting to the journal, useful questions to ask themselves when thinking about putting a submission forward (such as: will it help others to think innovatively about management education?) and concrete ideas about how to align their research with the journal.

Offerings from The University of Sydney Business School

The conference was strongly represented by academics from The University of Sydney Business School and collaborators who shared practice and research on topics as diverse as sustainable development goals, professional identity and cultural competence, design patterns for teaching at scale, supporting business communication skills, students as partners, and designing quality online assessment. Here is a taste of what was offered:

Called Professionals and Purpose: Integrating Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Management

Ranjit Voola, Anna Young-Ferris, Abdul Razeed, Sandra Seno-Alday

Internal and external pressures coupled with the dynamism in higher education have effectively transformed the academic profession and the nature of academic workload. These pressures present significant challenges to academics who aspire to align their personal values and professional identity. In this interactive panel, management scholars reflected on their journey towards becoming called professionals and how this journey led to the integration of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the syllabus, curriculum, and an extra-curricular initiative. Panel participants were invited to reflect on their own journey towards becoming called professionals and explore ways of achieving coherence in scholarship and teaching.

“Walking the cultural competence talk”: how educator’s professional identity influences cultural competence teaching and learning

Mesepa Lafaialii-Paul, Amy McHugh Cole (National Centre for Cultural Competence)

As universities become more internationalised and workplaces increasingly diverse, cultural competence (CC) is vital for business students to thrive in the global village. Educators play a key role in influencing students’ CC development, guiding them to a deeper level of self-awareness, understanding of their own cultural values, assumptions and biases which form their cultural identity and positioning. But, only when educators “walk the CC talk” as an expression of their professional identity that they enact the praxis of ‘teaching by learning’ and in turn students ‘learn to learn’ by their example. In collaboration with the University of Sydney’s National Centre for Cultural Competence (NCCC), this workshop applied an ontological focus and reflexive pedagogy for facilitating CC development. When educators experience CC as ways of ‘being and knowing’ as an enactment of one’s professional identity and teaching praxis, this has implications for teaching and learning in management education and other domains.

Addressing the issue of graduates lacking key employability related skills: a Case Study from the University of Sydney Business School of effective learning support for undergraduate business communication skills in first year

Jane Kerr, Andrew Allan

The challenge of Business School graduates lacking the skills for job readiness is one that has existed for decades. Communication skills are one of the 21st century soft skills particularly lacking. This is an issue experienced across postgraduate and undergraduate courses with the suggestion to embed programs in first year undergraduate subjects to provide the best chance of improving student learning and development. Our study explores the triple accredited University of Sydney Business Schools business communication learning and support program (BCAW) undertaken by all students enrolled in the Bachelor of Commerce in their first semester. Examining 10,000 students over a five-year period (2018-2022), the preliminary findings suggest such programs are effective in developing students’ business communication skills with average exam marks increasing by up to 10%.

Delivering quality learning experiences at scale: how to ensure our students feel connected

Elaine Huber, Stephanie Wilson, Dewa Wardak, Peter Bryant

Large-scale delivery of management courses is a common occurrence across the higher education sector and the effective design and delivery of such educational experiences is a challenge faced by many. How do we ensure our students continue to be engaged and connected in large courses whilst balancing their many competing activities? The discussion in this session built on a large educational strategic project being conducted at a large Australian metropolitan university Business School. The project aims to transform the teaching and learning experience in all large undergraduate and postgraduate core and foundation units. The discussion contributed to effective teaching and learning in management education by sharing key learnings from this large-scale project. It supported participants in thinking about ways they can address their own challenges with scale and a range of design patterns were shared that participants can adapt to meet their own needs.

Design Patterns for Connected Learning at Scale:
SaP o’clock: Students-as-Partners (SaP), customers, clients or employees metaphors and their influence on student-educator experience in Australian Business Schools

Maria Ishkova, Grainne Oates (Swinburne University of Technology), Ju Li Ng, Vanessa Loh, Mark Westcott, Robyn Martin, Angela Hecimovic, Michael Fernando

In recent years, the academic discourse related to Higher Education becomes more and more oriented toward the co-creation of teaching and learning experiences with students. As a result, the catchy metaphor ‘students-as-partners’ (SaP) is rapidly gaining more influence on teaching practice in Australian universities, earning its place in discussions, teaching philosophies and institutional strategies. SaP has worked well for some, but this should not be applied blindly and it should be considered carefully in each context. During this session, educators showcased the diverse application of SaP, and explored examples and debates of when and if SaP is beneficial to the different stakeholders. Students presented their perspective on how SaP influence their attitudes, learning outcomes and graduate qualities. Finally, the round table session drew upon the discussion to outline tips and advice on how to successfully implement SaP.

Introducing a framework to design and evaluate quality online assessment in management education

Corina Raduescu, Amanda White (University of Technology Sydney), Elaine Huber

The rapid transition from the physical to the online classroom environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted various challenges in areas such as academic integrity, information privacy, ease of access, student experience and feedback. Although the technology and learning platforms have provided mechanisms for innovation, the default option is to mirror face-to-face assessment practices with online exams and written reports representing most of the assessment types used in management education. This roundtable discussion introduced a framework for designing and evaluating quality online assessment and gave participants the opportunity to critique it via discussion and an activity where they will apply it to the design of an innovative assessment task.

Online Assessment Framework (Huber et al. 2022)

Join us next time!

If you would like an opportunity to explore challenges in a supportive community of educators committed to advancing practice in management education, please come and join us for MOBTS Oceania 2024!

A huge thank you to Kevin Lo (Chair, University of San Francisco, MOBTS President), Brandon Charpied (MOBTS Executive Director) and the entire conference team for a creating a supportive, inclusive and rewarding conference.

About the author

Stephanie is a Senior Lecturer and Deputy Director (CLaS) with the Business Co-design team at Sydney University and Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA). She enjoys working with others to explore new approaches to learning and teaching inspired by design practice and the arts.

Published by Stephanie Wilson

Stephanie is a Senior Lecturer and Deputy Director (CLaS) with the Business Co-design team at Sydney University and Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA). She enjoys working with others to explore new approaches to learning and teaching inspired by design practice and the arts.

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