Author : Prof. Sanjib Biswas, Assistant Professor, Calcutta Business School
Broadly, learning is defined as a change in an individual’s behavior caused by experiences or selfactivity. Over the last two decades, changing nature of global operations and added dimensions of competitive advantage have influenced significantly the relationship between management education and business. Management education is not only saddled with the responsibility of catering to needs of industry by developing industry-ready students through quality education, but also to fulfill the requirements of the society. Thus, management education has a holistic perspective emphasizing on academics, socio- political, economic, institutional, and cultural aspects. It needs to build a portfolio of capabilities in the students that includes functional knowledge, interpersonal skills, creativity, spirit of entrepreneurship, administrative, and other non-cognitive skills. The learners are required to play a role of an analyst for deriving meaningful actionable insight from the information they receive and accordingly disseminate the same. The definition of employability has undergone a radical change, as it demands employees who are innovators, complex problem-solvers, and good communicators, and who are adept to changes in real-life scenarios through application of what they learnt. In essence, coming decade requires industry ready graduates having inquisitiveness about new things, creativity, self-directedness, innovativeness, and knowledge of how they learn. Because of that, focus has been shifted to learner-centric, outcome based education. There is a growing need to organizational inputs into design of the curriculum.
The conventional leaning models rely predominantly on classroom teaching wherein the teachers play central role by designing and delivering the courses. The students play roles of passive receptors of information without being actively involved in the course. In effect, the courses do not result into desired outcome. Motivation level of the students goes down and the scope of innovativeness and independent thinking gets ceased. This in turn generates qualified graduates instead of industry ready professionals and leaders. However, question is “Can a lecture make students learn?” “Can we remember everything delivered through lectures?” Research has shown that it is impossible for students to absorb all of the information in a lecture (limited short-term memory). Eminent American educator Edgar Dale contended that, selection of instructional method is very important for enabling students to retain knowledge. He introduced the Cone of Experience concept (1946) which shows the progression of experiences from the most concrete (at the bottom of the cone) to the most abstract (at the top of the cone).
Figure 1: Cone of learning
The cone suggests that practicing action learning, the students can retain 90% of what they learnt. Therefore, it is imperative to design and deliver the curriculum with greater emphasis on sensory-based perceptual learning centered on students. Student-Centric Learning (SCL) allows students to shape their own learning paths and places upon them the responsibility to actively participate in making their educational process a meaningful one. SCL method facilitates how to learn. Instead of being a passive vessel filled by faculty member’s knowledge, a student is required to relate and apply the knowledge. In SCL mode, the role of an instructor is just to facilitate the learning process while igniting interests of students for leaning and helping them to build capabilities.
Figure 2: Conventional vs Student centered learning
In other words, higher education calls for student centric adult education in lieu of conventional pedagogy. Malcolm Knowles (1980) espoused the concept of ‘Andragogy’ wherein he argued for considering learner’s interest in designing and delivering courses instead of focusing on what instructors believe. According to him, educational process must be cooperative and based on guided interactions Furthermore, within SCL there is an intrinsic motivation for learning, with the emphasis being on cooperation, rather than competition, between students. As part of this approach, students are given the opportunity to compare their ideas with their peers and their teachers. between the instructors and students where the instructors help students to discover and develop their own potential. Knowles propounded that adults are self-directed learners who bring wealth of experience in educational settings. The adults are motivated by activity-based learning instead of being dependent on teachers only as in the concept of pedagogy. Knowels proposed a seven-step process for practicing andragogy, which includes following steps:
i. Create cooperative learning environment
ii. Mutual planning for setting goals
iii. Identification of learners’ needs and interests
iv. Formulation of learning objectives by the learners based on their needs and individual interests
v. Design of sequential activities directed towards established goals
vi. Selection of methods, materials, and resources
vii. Evaluation of quality of the learning experience for the learner continuously while focusing on outcome.
Extending the concept of andragogy, Hase and Kenyon (2000) advocated for advanced self-determined learning concept known as “Heutagogy”. In this method, learners acquire both competencies and capabilities. In effect, the students develop the ability “to take appropriate and effective action to formulate and solve problems in both familiar and unfamiliar and changing settings” (Cairns, 2000, p. 1, as cited in Gardner, Hase, Gardner, Dunn, & Carryer, 2007, p. 252). The learner is seen as, “the major agent in their own learning, which occurs as a result of personal experiences” (Hase and Kenyon 2007). The learner decides on what to learn and how to learn. Advancing from the concept of andragogy, heutagogy puts emphasis on developing capability, self-reflection, and metacognition or an understanding of one’s own learning process, double-loop learning, and nonlinear learning and teaching processes.
In essence, the point is to focus on learner-centric, outcome-based education. Outcome based education focuses on result-oriented thinking wherein the curriculum is designed and delivered to enable the students to acquire requisite knowledge for developing skills and right mind-set. At the end of the programme, the students are required to deliver outcomes i.e. performances using their competencies. In India, there is an emerging need to design and execute the programmes in tune with the global standards like Washington Accord, for imparting quality education. India, being a signatory nation in Washington Accord has entrusted National Board of Accreditation (NBA) with the responsibility to evaluate quality and effectiveness of the programmes offered by the academic institutions across the country. The central idea is to evaluate the programmes based on outcomes to satisfy the needs of the stakeholders such as students, faculty members, staff members, industry and employers, parents, the Government, and society.
Calcutta Business School being a progressive b-school in the eastern region is focused on meeting the changing needs of the stakeholders since its inception. Like other top b-schools, Calcutta Business School emphasizes on developing all-round capabilities in students by imparting learner-centric quality education. The curriculum at Calcutta Business School caters to the need of industry as well as society. As a continuously evolving curriculum, Calcutta Business School has incorporated initiatives like Outbound Leadership Practicum, Industry Practicum, International Student Exchange Programme, Rural Immersion Programme etc. for building all round capabilities of its students. Over the years, the students of Calcutta Business School have successfully demonstrated their abilities in leading roles in industries as well as an entrepreneur. Among the top b-schools in the eastern region, Calcutta Business School is committed towards continuous development of the quality of the PGDM programme at par with the global standards.
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