Accelerating Learning in Marketing Education Using Teams: Principles and Practice

Article excerpt

Abstract

Accelerated learning is an integrative method of learning, combining both sides of the brain to strengthen a student's relationship with self, teacher, subject matter and other students, and so assists students to achieve deep, rather than surface, learning. While the approach has been used to teach school pupils and trainees in the corporate world, its use in marketing education in universities is limited, and there are no reports of studies focusing on its use in postgraduate coursework degrees. The accelerated learning approach sits comfortably with the active approach to student learning, and builds on Kolb's (1981, 1984) four-stage experiential learning cycle. Educators in the marketing discipline have already embraced these two concepts and, thus, this paper assists educators and students who are concerned to accelerate learning even further. This article examines how accelerated learning could be used in teaching marketing at universities at the MBA level. Some techniques are synthesised from the literature that are particularly appropriate for the students and constraints of an MBA program in a university. We conclude that accelerated learning techniques can be used and are effective in a MBA program. Essentially, accelerated learning incorporates many, already known ideas but it is a useful comprehensive framework.

Key words: Team work, Accelerated learning, postgraduate marketing.

Introduction

Mirroring worldwide uncertainties related to economic problems, ageing populations, widespread unemployment and security concerns, the future of academic study is similarly uncertain. For example, applications to the economics PhD programs of many leading American universities have risen sharply in recent times: MIT applications were up by 15% for 2002-3, and New York University applications are 70% higher now than for 2000-1 (The Economist 2003, p. 33). The Harvard Business School has witnessed increasing enrolments in its MBA program since 1965, with 907 students now enrolled for 2008 (www.hbs.edu/about/mba.html). On the other side of the Atlantic, in Britain, plenty of students are keen to study business, but economics is seen as something of a dead end, unless studied and practised in America. Doctoral programs in Britain attract French and Spanish students but few Britons. Interest in undergraduate economics programs has also dropped, although, in line with the Blair government initiative, attendance at university has soared. School students preparing to study economics at university fell from 40,000 in 1992 to 17,000 ten years later (The Economist 2003, p. 33). More recently however, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the total number of students in higher education in Britain rose by almost 2% in 2006, compared to 2005 (Ford 2006). In Australia, enrolments have increased over the past twenty years. Indeed, at any one time more than one in three Australians is a student, with increasing numbers of them being mature age and working full- or part-time (Harker, Slade and Harker 2001).

One of the problems faced by academics in the 21st century is to design and conduct teaching to facilitate deep learning (Light and Cox 2001) in the context of busy, critical students, ready to brand-switch between classes and universities. Accelerated learning is one way of achieving this deep learning. It is an integrative method of learning that combines both hemispheres of the brain to strengthen a student's relationship with self, teacher, subject matter and other students (Farmer 1996a). In this way, accelerated learning assists students to achieve deep, rather than surface, learning (Biggs 1999). The approach has been used extensively to teach school pupils and in corporate training with short, intense behavioural courses such as sales training. However, research about its use in marketing education in universities is limited (Farmer 1996b), and there are no reports of studies focusing on postgraduate coursework courses such as the Master of Business Administration (MBA). …