Bringing Practitioner into the Classroom: Student Reflections and Learning Types: An Abstract
We witness a growing interest in the marketing area regarding the relationship between marketing theory and marketing practice, the usefulness of marketing models, or how firms carry out their marketing practice. The business discipline has since long taken an interest in the practical use of theories, i.e., as stated by Kurt Levin (1951): “There is nothing as practical as a good theory.” However, the theory-practice linkage has to a limited degree been transferred into the classroom, and only a few studies have so far focused on the effects of bringing practice into the classroom. There are some notable examples of nursing and medicine studies and disciplines that are known for applying reflective practice. However, there is a lack of this research within management and marketing literature. A common way of achieving practice-related assignments is to bring the students into the field, but what happens when you bring the field to the classroom? This can, for example, be done by introducing practice into the classroom by involving practitioners – i.e., executives, managers, consultants, and so forth – in student assignments. Well managed, this means that (a) the student gets to engage in a real-world-like setting and (b) that the student can reflect upon both his or her action and all the nuances of the (practical) event. In this study, we aim to contribute to our understanding regarding the effect of bringing marketing practitioners into the class-learning situation by (i) investigating how such learning experiences affect the students learning and (ii) what kind of learning the practitioner-based activity gives. Our goal is to shed some light on what kind of learning process “practice” in the classroom leads to and what kind of obstacles and benefits there are. We do this by carrying out an explorative study following grounded theory. Our research is inspired by grounded theory and it complements current marketing and management pedagogy studies. While working with cases allows the teacher to design a learning opportunity with clear intended learning outcome (ILO), or using simulation tools, these are artificial situations that do not reflect all the nuances of a “real-life” business situations. Internships do offer the student these nuances, but they are hard to connect to specific ILOs. We focus on a learning methodology that integrates the best of these two practice-oriented methods – i.e., having clear ILOs and bringing business atmosphere into the classroom. The study span 60 individual written student reflections and the results indicate different aspects of the students’ learning process. We coded the students’ renderings and categorized the findings into second-order constructs. Thereafter, the results were compiled, through axial coding, into a conceptual model that should be used for further development and exploration. The model indicates that learning is not only related to the student’s qualities and form of learning triggers; it is also moderated by the student’s emotions and how well the assignment is carried out and understood. The study is a novel attempt to increase our knowledge of how this type of assignments affects the students as well as lead to the fulfillment of ILOs.