Business schools have long emphasized the importance of unique learning experiences—collaborating in a professional workspace (virtually or in-person), live client consulting and real-world problem-solving. In essence, this is experiential learning, and a recent push by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) is placing it front and center in the curricula.
Experiential learning supports the idea that business education should be innovative and foster engagement among students, faculty and industry executives.
“Through experiential learning, Fox students have the opportunity to learn directly from industry professionals, our corporate partners, alumni and community, which complements what they are taught in the classroom,” says Aubrey Kent, senior associate dean at the Fox School.
When classes moved online for the Spring 2020 semester, alumni and Fox community members joined online classes to share their knowledge. Adam Lyons, BBA ’08, entrepreneur and founder of The Zebra, an insurance comparison website spoke about crowdsourcing and crowdfunding in an undergraduate class.
“Fox goes above and beyond what other universities do when it comes to experiential learning,” says Jeffrey Boles, associate professor and chair of the Department of Legal Studies, and the former director of experiential learning. “We offer lab courses, practicums, internships, leadership programs, expeditions, workshops, social entrepreneurship programs, impact investment funds, venture capital engagements, consulting programs, domestic and global immersion programs, corporate visits, speaker series, and case competitions.”
During the 2017-2018 academic year, Boles researched experiential learning programs and opportunities of other colleges and identified best practices. He audited Fox departments and majors for experiential learning involvement in order to identify areas of strength and for improvement. He also led a series of faculty workshops to assist course instructors in incorporating experiential learning into their classes and departments, met with individual faculty to discuss best practices and helped coordinate an event to showcase the school’s activities.
To move experiential learning forward at the Fox School and integrate it throughout a students’ journey, Fox leadership recently appointed assistant professor Misty Blessley and assistant professor Curtis Gregory as the academic directors of experiential learning.
While working to redefine experiential learning, Gregory stresses that the learning model exists on a spectrum. “Experiential learning includes a variety of activities. Students also can participate in case competitions, work-study or internships, which may mean they get to see their work used by a firm—or are offered a job after they graduate,” says Gregory.
Blessley and Gregory say measuring student progress and success from a variety of angles is key to their efforts going forward. The co-directors plan to increase engagement and improve tracking using software like Suitable, which actively tracks students’ participation in internships or similar opportunities during their studies.
“It’s critical that we gather data from all perspectives—student, faculty and organization—and use that information to identify what we can do next,” Gregory says.
Learn by doing at Fox
- The Fox School partners with the U.S. Federal Court to deliver experiential learning-based financial literacy through the Supervision to Aid Reentry (STAR) Program, a Federal Reentry Court program for Philadelphia residents on supervised release. Professor Jeffrey Boles leads the Fox STAR program with support from Charles Allen, assistant dean, and Temple law student Nina del Valle.
- Fox Management Consulting (FMC) supervises the required Fox MBA capstone course, a semester-long, live-client consulting project combining experiential learning with real-world applications. When Temple University switched to a completely online format in response to COVID-19, FMC regrouped and designed a timely, business-relevant project that helped them shape a plan with practical, real-time and future applications for several industries affected by the pandemic.
- The Charles Schwab Interactive Financial Classroom provides state-of-the-art software for the financial planning program, which allows students to seamlessly share their work in-person or remotely. This technology connects students with wealth managers, financial planners and advisors to create awareness of the field and prepare students for futures in the registered investment advisor (RIA) industry.
- For the 11th year of the Target Case Competition, created to give students the opportunity to act as consultants and address corporate challenges, the competition itself had a unique challenge to solve. In light of COVID-19 and the shift to online learning and remote work, the Fox School and the Center for Student Professional Development (CSPD) held the competition virtually.
- The Fox School of Business moved its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program online due to the pandemic. The IRS-regulated program, which offers free tax help to people who make less than $56,000 per year, will now be facilitated through the use of Zoom Video Communications technology and TUsafesend, a resource that makes it easy to securely send and receive files from within and outside the University.