by Margaret Fletcher, Programme Leader MSc, International Business &
Sarah Honeychurch, Teaching Excellence Fellow,
Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow
Introduction and Background
The MSc in International Business (IB) is offered by the International Business and Enterprise cluster, Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow. The programme is run over three semesters and is designed to provide students with theoretical knowledge and apply practical skills in international business. During the MSc students acquire an understanding of core international business subjects and contemporary topics including: International Strategic Management, Managing Across Cultures, Global Business Environment, Managing the Multinational Enterprise & Subsidiaries, International Entrepreneurship, Market Analysis, Global Innovation, International Sales Management, International Business and Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies, Understanding Corporate Globalization.
A wide range of learning and teaching methods is employed in the programme, such as lectures, seminars, workshops, action learning sets and tutorials. An innovative feature is a group based new venture creation project which integrates experiential learning gained in semester one courses: International Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Market Analysis and Entrepreneurial Finance for SMEs. This project prepares students for the International Management Solutions (IMS) course in semester two, during which substantial research-based business consultancy projects are carried out by student teams for local firms to develop their business internationally.
In order to achieve the group project learning outcomes, students learn team-working capabilities, with particular attention to:
- Applying theory to practice in operating within multicultural teams
- Understanding the benefits and challenges of multicultural team-working
- Problem-solving in multicultural teams
- Developing of international management competences
- Improving time management and workload planning
- Critical reflection on roles, responsibilities and performance in team-working, including cross-cultural influences.
Developing an appreciation of diversity in global teams is an underlying feature of the group allocation. Our criteria include; country and regional background, prior knowledge and experience, gender and personality type. We found that the semester one projects inevitably resulted in some group tensions where students experienced learning in these different contexts usually for the first time. We sought to provide additional support for students before embarking on the projects and a Team Based Learning (TBL) workshop was introduced at the beginning of the programme in 2019.
What is Team-Based Learning
We chose TBL because it is a pedagogically robust model of group work that encourages student engagement and accountability to their peers. It is a highly structured collaborative learning strategy where team membership is pre-selected by the educator in order to ensure diversity of participants, and students typically stay within the same team for the duration of the course. TBL has three stages:
1. Preparation. In this flipped model of learning, students are expected to prepare beforehand from preselected learning materials
2. Readiness assurance. One in class, students are given a short test to ensure that they have learnt the class materials. They first compete the test individually, and then immediately afterwards as a team. If necessary, the educator will provide a mini-lecture
3. Application exercises. These are typically case studies with various possible outcomes. Students work collaboratively to decide how to answer the exercises from a list of options provided by the educator. This allows them to consolidate their knowledge. Once all teams have reached consensus, they simultaneously declare their answers and then take turns to present their solutions and debate with each other.
Team-Based Learning in an International Business Programme
The case study we selected for this workshop was the success of Chobani yogurt in the USA, and the possible reasons for this success. We used Harvard Business Publishing Education to source suitable materials and designed a two-hour workshop based on TBL principles. Reading materials were sent out to all of the students seven days before the date of the workshop. The MSc IB has high standards, and we were confident that students would complete the pre-class readings – as indeed they did. On the day of the workshop, we asked students to complete the individual and team tests by using electronic software so that we could immediately see the results. The software we chose was called YACRS(1).
The class was lively, with a lot of on-topic discussion and the team presentations made it clear that the students were engaging in meaningful learning. When surveyed after the class, the students told us that they had enjoyed the rigorous, collaborative format and would like similar sessions in the future.
Conclusion and Next Steps
Since we developed this workshop the world has changed. Initially we had envisaged developing TBL for use in face-to-face classes, and we would still like to do that in the future. However, we believe that TBL can also work online, and we are currently designing a workshop for remote learning which we will deliver next month.
Michaelsen, L.K., Knight, A. B., and Fink, L. D. (2004). Team-based learning: a transformative use of small groups in college teaching. Sterling, VA, Stylus Pub.
Team Based Learning Collaborative: http://www.teambasedlearning.org/definition/
(1) This is a web-based class response system that students can access by using their own mobile devices. It was designed at the University of Glasgow in collaboration with academics in Computing Science and the Business School.
We would like to acknowledge the contribution of ASBS tutor Ikye Ikegwuonu in planning and delivering the TBL workshop.
About the authors
Dr Margaret Fletcher is a senior lecturer in International Business at the Adam Smith Business School and the Programme Leader, MSc International Business (2015-2020). She specializes in experiential learning pedagogy for international new venture creation and growth. E-mail: Margaret.Fletcher@glasgow.ac.uk
Sarah Honeychurch is a Teaching Fellow in the Adam Smith Business School and the School lead for assessment and feedback. She is currently writing up a PhD in participatory learning in open, online communities and is interested in exploring alternatives to traditional methods of assessment. E-mail: Sarah.Honeychurch@glasgow.ac.uk