Faculty Best Practices
Kevin Groves, PhD
Associate Professor of Organizational Theory and Management
In my leadership course, each student completes a 360-degree leadership assessment, which is a valuable tool used to develop leadership competencies. Students complete the assessment, and then ask three to six of their work colleagues – including direct reports, supervisors and peers – to complete it as well. They get a comprehensive feedback report that provides a detailed, data-driven report on their leadership competencies and how their colleagues view them. Typically, upward feedback like this is hard to come by, as most organizations don't have a process of providing confidential feedback. But it is invaluable to growth as a leader. Students learn how they excel in leading others and what their blind spots might be. Afterwards, each student commits to a development plan in which they identify which competencies they will work on and create a plan for how they will achieve it. It's very individualized and depends entirely on their own challenges.
As a Blended Learning Faculty Fellow, describe how blending learning activities affected learning outcomes?
I incorporated three different online initiatives. First, I used an online VoiceThread presentation incorporating PowerPoint slides with my voice as audio to which students could post replies. Second, I posted a video case study of a CEO's experience driving a dramatic turnaround at Xerox and hosted threaded discussions online. Lastly, I presented two quizzes online in Sakai. I found it didn't sacrifice learning quality at all. Verbal participation can give some students anxiety, so they are less willing to speak up in class. However, these students are often some of the biggest contributors to our online discussions. By offering a blend of both online and in-person activities, we give students with different learning needs opportunities to participate and everyone can have their voice heard.
I have found field research projects to be highly effective. Students in my organizational design course work with a real organization and conduct a comprehensive diagnosis or assessment. Week by week, they are learning about various organizational models and designs in class, and they have a parallel live project to which they can apply the theories, making the frameworks and principles come alive. Since it's in real time, they are working for three and a half months with a moving target and collecting diagnostic data on organizational effectiveness, so they must revise their plans as new obstacles appear – just like in the workplace. At the end of the term, students provide a report to the organization and to the class. They don't always see the whole picture until they've gone through a project with an organization like this.