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Creativity in the classroom

Media Release
November 11, 2009

Creativity in the classroom

A management lecturer who brings real-world consulting into the classroom and an economist who draws on the slave trade in the Sudan to illustrate economic principles are the winners of this year’s Waikato Management School Outstanding Teaching Awards.

There’s no textbook assigned for Dr Jenny Gibb’s strategic management lectures. “I have a lot of industry people come in to talk to the students,” she says, “and I’ve developed two team-based learning exercises – an e-business plan competition and a consulting exercise – which gives students hands-on practical experience of the theory they’re learning.”

Developed in partnership with Barry Dowdeswell of Auckland-based consultancy AARN Innovation, the consulting exercise requires third-year Bachelor of Electronic Commerce students to work in teams to solve a risk-related information technology problem in real time for a real company.

“First, I have local advisers from Deloittes come in to teach the students questioning skills, and then Barry talks to them about risk and the IT sector. Then the student teams have two face-to-face sessions with Barry during which they have to find out what the problem is and come up with a solution. The students appreciate working on real-world examples and getting the opportunity to try out their consultancy skills.”

Dr Gibb’s e-business competition is also firmly anchored in the real world; students have to go out and consult with industry and then build a real life business model.

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“Not using a textbook I can be more flexible and make use of up-to-date information,” says Dr Gibb. “It’s all about creating an authentic learning environment.”

Creative teaching techniques also proved a winner for economics lecturer Dr Michael Cameron. “I teach the core first- and second-year economic papers with a very diverse student group – some of them have done economics at high school while others have no economics at all, and are a bit scared. So I try to design the learning process so all students can engage.”

That makes for interesting discussions in Dr Cameron’s lectures. “In my first-year Economics in Society paper we talk about music piracy, slave trading in the Sudan, the market for human organs such as kidneys – things that really challenge the students’ perceptions. Economics is all about decision-making. We’re all making choices all the time so we’re using economics every day, we just don’t know it.”

Dr Cameron says he constantly bugs the student reps in his lectures for feedback. “I’m always thinking about where the students came from and where they’re going – and what they need for the next stage.”

Management School dean Professor Frank Scrimgeour says the Outstanding Teaching Awards aim to recognise effective and inspiring teaching. “Both Jenny and Michael are fine examples of teaching scholars. Their passion for their subjects is evident in their creative teaching styles and in the commitment they both show to student learning.”

Dr Gibb and Dr Cameron each receive a plaque and an honorarium of $2,500.


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