Teaching and Learning in the Modern MBA Program

Academic Paper, 2021

46 Pages, Grade: 98


Table of Contents


1 Introduction
1.1 Teaching Strategies
1.2 Characteristics of Adult Learners
1.3 Transformative Adult Education
1.4 Learning Management System
1.5 Self-directed learning

2 Teaching strategies used in the MBA program

3 Characteristics of Adult Learners
3.1 Five principles for teaching adults
3.2 Five warm-ups and energizers

4 Transformative Adult Education
4.1 The Processes in transformative learning
4.2 Transformative learning in the e-learning environment
4.3 Adult education and self-directed learning
4.4 Elements of transformative learning

5 Distance Learning and Learning Management System
5.1 Blended learning and LMS
5.2 Learner engagement in a blended learning environment
5.3 Constructivism in adult learning

6 Self-Directed Learning in Online Learning Environment
6.1 SDL versus SRL
6.2 Learning Management System
6.3 Learning Management System functionalities
6.4 Varied roles and permission in LMS
6.5 Limitations of learning management systems
6.6 Advantages of LMS
6.7 The online learning environment and Self-Directed Learning
6.8 SDL personal attributes in an online learning environment
6.9 Positive Characteristics of Self‑Directed Learners

7 Conclusion



The purpose of this study is to present the essential elements of adult education in the Masters of Business Administration (MBA) program, such as the effective teaching strategies for adult learners, the characteristics of an adult learner, transformative adult education, distance learning, and the learning management system and self-directed learning in an online learning environment. Various studies and concepts were presented to place in a perspective the current state of the MBA program. Moreover, building on the fundamentals of adult education, the study identified the tools and strategies that were effective in delivering the program. This study contends that the program benefited from the current trends in adult education, specifically transformative education and self-directed learning. Similarly, the availability of the LMS expands the teaching and learning opportunities for the program. Finally, the study contends that the five elements of adult education can significantly help the faculty deliver the program effectively.

1 Introduction

Every journey is supposed to inhere a purpose. All steps are efforts towards that purpose. Similar to laying the foundation of adult education, establishing its cornerstone is worthwhile. This paper attempt to define the MBA program in the context of adult education and the concept to which it adheres. The MBA program is part of adult education’s core principle that engages students in lifelong learning (Ballou, Bowers, Boyatzis, & Kolb, 1999). Students in the program prove that they can be successful in performing multiple roles. For instance, the program does not require any age limit. There are students whose purpose in enrolling is to catch up with the latest business trends and finally reach their potentials. Besides learning, some students wanted to set a new direction in their life or better transition in a new phase of their career (Datar, Garvin, Cullen, & Cullen, 2010). Most importantly, enrolling in the program provide an opportunity to meet their classmates from various walks of life.

Ideally, the MBA program allows the student to acquire an advanced body of knowledge and skills to improve business decision-making and ultimately enhance business results. The most MBA program requires students to submit a thesis before earning a degree. The program faculty regularly attended conferences and seminar-workshop, which add to their specialization (Grigsby, 2019). Consequently, help student earn a degree.

Successful delivery of the program usually does not occur in the absence of development. Most graduate programs’ failure is not the replete of agenda to promote better learning, but the faculty’s lack of adequate professional development (Caldwell, 2010). The leading cause is traceable to the administrators’ failure to include the faculty in program planning and implementation. The promotion of adult education in isolation from students and the system will likely fail. Experts in adult education recognize that the bottom line of all graduate courses is improving adult learning. However, the wide gap is the belief that any program launched in adult education always enhances student learning (Brookfield, 2005).

Indeed, the assumption is flawed since adult education is not an end to itself; rather, student learning should be the standard upon which all program success is measured. Initiating a program with a narrow focus will fail to improve adult learning. The wide gap between the graduate program and adult learning is the absence of program evaluation and compounded with the learner difficulty.

Although trying to determine if the program’s delivery is effective or not is a daunting task, it is relatively the absence of a system designed to measure the effectiveness that defines the program. A lack of such a system contributes to the failure of the plan (Borkowsky, 2013). In attempting to affect adult learning with a significant outcome, the two primary objectives of the graduate program must be instructors and program effectiveness (Chen & Jones, 2007). Since student growth and achievement are the direct purposes of adult education, all its elements must provide the learner needs. Similarly, a successful MBA program should produce the desired student outcome. For that to happen, the administrator must initiate whatever changes necessary to promote an effective instructional practice (Kuechler & Stedham, 2018).

There is an increasing interest in adult education. Several factors, such as increasing enrollment and the desire to offer an adult education, help learners achieve their potentials. Recent discussions on adult education wanted to identify the essential elements of a successful MBA program.

While there is an increasing concern about adults’ educational needs, few studies attempted to review the various elements that create a more effective MBA program. The lack of review on adult education is attributed to the limited interest in the link between MBA and adult education. This study identified the five essential elements in an MBA program.

1.1 Teaching Strategies

Self-directed learning is recognized as the foremost teaching strategy, which is student-initiated. The student identifies the entire goal-setting, learning method, and evaluation of their progress. A self-directed learner is proactive, learn more and better. With this enthusiasm level, the student has a stronger motivation, remember and utilize more of what is known (Zhan-bo, 2012).

Critical reflection is the second teaching strategy, which is composed of three interrelated processes. First, the process of raising questions on assumptions, which was uncritically accepted. Second, the process in which students took different perspectives on previously accepted ideas shapes their reasoning and ideologies (Reynolds, 1999). The use of simulation and cases are found in teaching strategies. Third, the process in which adults distinguish the unique cultural ideas compared to the hegemonic ideas of a dominant culture. Admittedly, adults can learn based on these processes compared to much younger learners (Closs & Antonello, 2011).

The lecture is the third teaching strategy for the adult learner. Most educators agreed that lecture is an efficient way of helping adult understand the foundation of the subject. As a tool, it is useful in the initial dissemination of information. However, the lecture is teacher-centered, which is more effective if combined with other teaching strategies (Barnes, Preziosi, & Gooden, 2004).

Adult educators recognized discussion as the complete learning tool for an adult learner. The interactive and participatory requirement of a discussion gravitates students towards learning. Aside from encouraging learners to participate, they can evaluate alternative ways of thinking and behaving. Moreover, a discussion facilitates the student’s self-experience and engage them in critical thinking (Goldman, 2012).

Guided learning is useful when the learner is trained in a hands-on setting. During the guided learning, the teacher instructs the learner on the process and the expected result. Both the teacher and student initially perform the task. Later the student completes the task independently. The key to learning is for the student to understand the process. Based on the correct result, the teacher critiques the process and the output based on the teacher input, the student evaluates the task and adjust or fixes any deficiencies (Elliott & Turnbull, 2004).

Experiential learning is the final teaching strategy based on the student experience as a vital resource critical in an ideological belief. However, there are two drawbacks in relying on experience to define adult learning. First, not all experiences are objective; instead, these are culturally shaped and defined. Second, the experience changes based on the cultural, ideological, and moral perspective in which it is viewed (De Déa Roglio & Light, 2009).

1.2 Characteristics of Adult Learners

Several studies investigated the characteristics of adult learners’ depicting essential assumptions associated with theoretical frameworks closely related to human development. The transformational learning theory is familiar with adult development from constructive-development. The idea focuses on the evolution of learners becoming aware that they are knowledge constructors and problem-solvers (Keegan, 2000).

Other studies validate that adult learners preferred a learner-centered instruction as adult learning theory predicted. The best learning experience among adults is the faculty helpfulness, respect, and concern for students, flexibility, and encouraging discussions. Moreover, a teacher who emphasizes motivating learners, providing relevant materials, clear presentation, and degree of expertise are desirable characteristics adult learners wanted in a course. However, these traits in the context of the numerous roles and responsibilities that graduate students juggle are perfectly understandable in the desire to maximize knowledge (Fenwick, 2010).

1.3 Transformative Adult Education

MBA students already possessed a coherent body of knowledge and experiences. It is their frame of reference in which they try to define the world. As adults, they attempt to selectively shape or delimit their cognition, expectations, feelings, and perceptions based on their frame of reference. If they encounter ideas that do not fit their frame, there is a strong tendency to reject it (Barber, 2018).

Transformative learning is the process of causing a change in a frame of reference. An adult learner tries to set aside or suppress the frame of reference which embraces cognitive, conative, and emotional components. The habits of the mind and a point of view are the two dimensions of the frame of reference. For instance, the perception that people coming from a particular region are inferior is a habit of the mind (Weybrecht, 2017). Thinking is a conglomeration of intricate feelings, attitudes, judgments, and beliefs that shape the resulting perspective.

In a typical MBA program, the faculty can explore or examine the student’s perspective since it is accessible through feedback from peers. However, it is not possible with the habit of mind, which more rigid than the points of view. It is a product of cultural assimilation and the distinctive influence of the community. On the other side, points of view are malleable, which students show in their process of solving problems and modifying assumptions.

An ideal MBA program required students to examine their assumptions, beliefs, feelings, and outlooks for personal development. The process shows the transformation of a student’s assumption, belief, and experience to a better perspective. An MBA program that promotes transformative learning offers students new processes to learn their chosen business specialization and apply them by changing their assumptions, belief, and behavior. Transformative learning entails critical thinking intending to define their world in a new way.

1.4 Learning Management System

Digital technologies are essential for training adult n in several organizations. There is an increasing use of technology integrated into several learning materials. The learning management system (LMS) and webinars help trainers and trainees enhance their knowledge and skills. Technology-mediated learning environment offers advantages that benefit students to accumulate more knowledge (Liu & Li, 2012).

The currently available digital technologies have created an opportunity for adult education, convenience, and broader scope. As a tool for distance education, the LMS promotes interaction and collaboration among students and faculty. The growth of digital technologies is essential for teaching and learning in that they overcome challenges to facilitate education (Su, Bonk, Magjuka, Liu, & Lee, 2005). LMS that are systematically and consistently applied adds value and benefit current online education.

Ideal MBA programs attempt to explore the adult learning context and evaluate adult learning characteristics based on affordance of adult education, which is expected to be present for students to learn. The LMS’s effectiveness in teaching and learning is on the possibility of delivering the entire course content. Perhaps the success depends on identifying a new layer of responsibility for faculty and administrators, which is not to use the LMS as a replacement to pedagogy instead as a tool to enhance the deployment of the course and facilitate learning (Zheng, Wang, Doll, Deng, & Williams, 2018).

1.5 Self-directed learning

Most adult learning is self-directed. Self-directed learning (SDL) is a process in which the adult learner takes the initiative to learn in the absence of assistance in planning, implementing, and evaluating their learning experiences. Substantially, SDL occurred outside the classroom. A self-directed learner decides on the content, evaluation, method, and resources to learn while taking responsibility for the process, needs, goals, resources, and the assessment of the outcome (Boyatzis, 2002).

SDL’s advantages are that the student can conveniently include learning in their everyday task and can occur at the student’s convenience, based on learning preferences. In the MBA program, it can be in the form of research or collaborative work with peers. The SDL works best with MBA students who already gained high literacy skills, possessed independence, high level of confidence, and were internally motivated and resourceful. However, SDL is not mutually exclusive; many adults who engage in SDL may also enroll in a formal education program (Schedlitzki & Witney, 2014).

Preferably, the MBA program’s adult education setting can supplement traditional instruction with various techniques to promote SDL for learners who want an independent learning experience. Self-direction is a vital element of persistence in the program. Helping students determine when to engage in self-study after graduating is a significant achievement of the program.

Delivering the MBA program requires an amalgamation of the different principles and theories on adult learning. At the same time, an effort to apply these principles to practice. The five elements presented in this study are not mutually exclusive. There are several techniques in using these elements, which are found in the succeeding chapters.

2 Teaching strategies used in the MBA program

There are several common teaching strategies available for graduate professors. They represent a broad range of practical actions established to facilitate learning among postgraduate students. The lists below are intentionally brief but not exclusive or limited in the scope of the graduate program’s teaching techniques (Wlodkowski & Ginsberg, 2017).

Graduate education recognized that teaching is an art and a science. The lists of teaching strategies below were gathered from the MBA professors to identify their standard teaching practices (Charlier, Brown, & Rynes, 2011). Although numerous researches describe an extensive set of teaching skills, very few try to identify standard teaching practices at the Graduate level. The educators assume that the graduate professors, who did not formally earn a degree in Teacher Education, knew how to teach because they were used to be students (Li, Greenberg, & Nicholls, 2007).

Teachers in any graduate program recognized that being an excellent teacher is a continuous life-long professional challenge, wherein the parameters are seldom unrecognized. At the MBA program, the teachers agree that excellence represents the program’s best practices, helping achieve the four (4) program educational objectives (PEO).

A. Develop excellence in leadership and management in a business environment through team building and best human relations practices.
B. Demonstrate competency and consistency in decision making related to the balance between financial sustainability and welfare.
C. Display professional understanding of the diverse economic, multicultural, national, and international business global issues.
D. Use both quantitative and qualitative analysis in decision making to varied business ethical issues

In trying to meet the PEO of the program, the teacher focus on that aspect of teaching competence that is visible to oneself and others and, therefore, useful for student evaluation. Since teaching excellence can be defined in language that details learning actions, it should demonstrate a confirmable performance, neither too technical nor vaguely abstract. Hence, administrators can investigate these practices (Grandzol, 2004). Standard practice among graduate educators when the teaching strategies lack an element or exceed a component is to modify how the teachers proceed in their perceived engagement with the students in the class (Roome, 2005).

Practically, classroom settings always vary in content and goals. However, the best practices in teaching strategy apply to all courses, albeit in different degrees. The list of teaching strategies used to attempt to specify a myriad of elements that need a closer inspection or investigation from the researcher interested in active learning at the graduate school.

A lecture is an effective teaching strategy where the teacher presents new information orally, hoping it fits most of the students learning the style. In this situation, students are passive learners. Teachers are aware of limiting their lecture to 20 minutes because student interest falls off rapidly after 20 minutes (Frohberg, 2005).

Rhetorical questioning. Using this technique, the teacher spent seven to 10 minutes segments pause, ask pre-planned rhetorical questions. The teacher encourages students to record their answers in their notes (Currie & Knights, 2003).

A survey with examples. At this point, the teacher asks for feedback from students on what they agree or disagree with by asking them to raise their hands. The teacher asks a volunteer to express in the class the reason for agreeing or disagreeing.

Dyad. The teachers ask students to pair themselves and share examples of a point just completed. The teacher believed that bringing to attention specific points increases the student’s awareness of the complexity and improved understanding when the topic is further discussed with another student. The teacher also believed that these experiences could draw them to establish a more reliable connection with their classmates (Murnieks, Haynie, Wiltbank, & Harting, 2011).

Short readings are short cases read in class, especially, ethical viewpoints in business are useful topics for a dyad.

First-person experience. These are ethical cases written in the first-person point of view, and the teachers used it to let the students readily participate in the discussion.

Individual Task with Review is a problem-solving concept; students complete a worksheet or other task and compare it with another student before the class engages in a discussion.

A Case Study is an actual business event centered on a problem or issues a person, business, organization, or group faced. The case study is useful in raising numerous complex questions that stimulate discussion and different alternative viewpoints. This exercise’s primary objective is for students to articulate their thoughts, identify issues, propose solutions, and choose alternative solutions (Helms, Alvis, & Willis, 2005).

Thoughtful Questions is a strategy teacher used to promote engagement among students. It aims to help better thinking among students. Although everyone is capable of thinking, this technique stops the teacher from precluding the student thinking process. Using this strategy, the teacher believed that the right questions lead students to think better, allowing focus on applying current understanding to the content of the problem (Mintu-Wimsatt, Sadler, & Ingram, 2007).

The teacher often uses the eleven questions design which meet the standards of both perceptive and discoverable

1. Description, inquire on the student’s observation, on the event or the process of comparing and contrasting. (e.g. What is the difference …? What happened? What did you see?
2. Reflection is asking the student to reveal interesting or surprising observation. (e.g. What was surprising or interesting?).
3. Analogy request students to discuss things that may remind them about the concept (e.g. What does it look or remind you of?)
4. Common purpose requires the student to state the function or purpose.
5. Procedure requires the student to state the purpose or function.
6. Possibilities motivate student to state alternatives, substitute process or a “what-if” situations.
7. Prediction elicit from student the potential or likely outcome. (What will happen next? What will be the result? What will you observe?)
8. Justification need the student to prove, based on the outcome the decision is correct. (e.g. What evidence prove that? How can you tell?)
9. Theorizing require the student to state the theory to explain. (e.g. What is the reason behind?)
10. Generalization ask the student to use inferences from particular cases to generalize. (e.g. What is the principle behind?)
11. Definition make the student describe the meaning of a concept or a term

Wait time. After the faculty engage the one of these, the student need a minimum of 5 seconds to process and start answering the questions.

Reflective Responses to Learner Contributions is a technique that enhances reflective listening among students. The teacher usually shares their own experience, information, or perspective, which fosters mutual respect without domination. The method promotes a thoughtful response that supports sharing between teacher and student without losing control (Inamdar & Roldan, 2013).

Paraphrase. Remaining alert on the students’ intellectual growth, the teacher requires them to say something new or more than commonplace using their own words. The intention of this technique is for the teacher to elicit from the students their experience and validate other perspectives or confirm their understanding (Yang & Shi, 2003).

Active Learning Strategies are useful when the teacher wants to foster productive and constructive participation, which is modified learn ing. The technique is for the teacher to select the type of activity to match the class objective.

Construction Spiral. The teacher poses a problem question following a three-step learning cycle. First, the student writes down their thoughts; second, a discussion is with a group of three; third, the class compiles the answer on the board, trying to avoid any evaluation or changes the class offers. This strategy allows the group to correct themselves. If a more sophisticated understanding is needed as a start, the teacher repeats the process posing a follow-up question (Cockburn, 2004).

Brainstorm. The teacher solicits for all to hear the ideas and alternative actions without judgment. The objective of this strategy is to encourage student ideas, creativity, demonstrating that as a group, people can create more than as a single individual (Reilly, 2015).

Concept Model. In the beginning, the teacher distributes hand-outs, which asks students a series of questions. Later the students will group themselves to build a conceptual model. They construct their diagram and observations (J. B. Arbaugh & Hwang, 2006).

Simulations and Games. The teacher creates business circumstances, and the students try to cope with the scenario or complex business situations. The teacher gives simulations and games with specific guidelines, rules, and structured relationships (Ranchhod, Gurău, Loukis, & Trivedi, 2014).

Peer Teaching : The teacher asked students who have a better grasp of the concept to explain the idea to others (Shue, 2013).

Cooperative Group Assignment is a technique that overtly places the learners as workers and forces the achievement of the group goal. This strategy aims to accomplish; effort exerted to achieve the quality of relationships, psychosocial adjustment. The teachers who used this technique have guaranteed clear objectives and a more high level of reasoning, a more significant generation of ideas and solutions, and a better transfer of learning among students. Cooperative learning groups embrace five essential elements: positive interdependence; individual accountability; group processing; social skills; face-to-face interaction (Rafferty, 2013)

Double-Loop-Feedback is more comfortable for the teacher to identify errors and deficiencies. However, the teacher’s challenge is to communicate these errors so that students will continue to be engaged in learning. This technique facilitates mutual awareness between the teacher and students on how learning takes place. The teaching strategy method for adults is for the teacher NOT to let the students feel defensive, confused, and ashamed when criticized or corrected. The teacher provides feedback so that it elicits from the student reflection and self-correction without making them feel defensive (J. B. Arbaugh & Hwang, 2006).

Double-loop feedback promotes the student’s continued engagement at the same time, acquires self-confidence and competence. The teacher proceeds with the least inferential and examining the student performance at each stage. The teacher and the student cooperatively examined the student performance and the teacher’s underlying perception in evaluating the performance. The optimal correction happens when the teacher and the learner work together to detect the error before proceeding to the next phase. In other words, this technique works because both get the facts first and then agree on what the points mean and then work to make learning better (J. Arbaugh & Hwang, 2005).

Adult learning is challenging. However, the faculty at the MBA program think best that the essential way to improve their teaching is primarily by developing the content knowledge until the student end up with sophisticated levels of expertise. The challenge is to teach this knowledge in a simplistic instructional model. The teacher understands that both the subject content and the teaching strategy are equally important; both are linked. The faculty at the MBA program had accepted the challenge of commitment through the appropriate manner of giving feedback, creating a climate of learning, providing a fresh perspective, which enhances student learning towards professional development (Finger, Sun, & Jamieson-Proctor, 2010).


Excerpt out of 46 pages


Teaching and Learning in the Modern MBA Program
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ISBN (Book)
Teaching, learning, MBA
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Vicente Salvador Montaño (Author), 2021, Teaching and Learning in the Modern MBA Program, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1189857


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