Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

Let's Tell a Story Together

Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

Let's Tell a Story Together

Article excerpt


The method of instruction presented in this paper was primarily used for teaching project management courses (Kelsey, & Zaliwski, 2014; Zaliwski, & Kelsey, 2015). However, we also successfully tested it on Strategic Human Resource courses. The presented method can be implemented successfully at any applied business course and is not only limited to business.

The research question addressed in this paper is: How to teach effectively applied business in a multicultural

The characterization of the problem is twofold. On the one hand, any business course inherits its complexity from the business domain as most business problems may be characterized as so-called "wicked" or non-structured problems, meaning problems where it is hard to define the problem itself. Additionally, this kind of problem may not have "the" best solution but some more, or less, satisfactory solutions.

On the other hand, the multicultural environment adds additional complexities such as the cooperation among individuals coming from different cultures and various ethnic backgrounds. The students bring to their team's various traditions of problem-solving (if correctly utilized this may be a source of creativity), and the different traditions of doing business. The students often have experienced various social and business traditions in their home countries (e.g., authoritarian style of management and leadership). Frequently the students do not feel obligated to be creative due to their country traditions, so they leave problem solutions to their leaders. Additionally, even if students read the business cases independently of our efforts, international students still have some difficulties with the English language. Surprisingly, the English language is not the same in each country.

Initially, to find the solutions for the above problem, we considered many factors influencing student behavior like student laziness, the influence of NZ climate, and student difficulties in adapting to a new place. But with deeper research, we find deep cultural reasons as the background to the difficulties. Thus, we started to think in categories of deep cultural differences and cultural sensitivity applied to teaching.

The proposed solution is based on the effective fusion of the following:

1. Storytelling--practical, interesting, and deeply embedded in historical and cultural contexts. Suitable for human's way of reasoning. Storytelling is important in the Pacific area because of the special meaning of stories in Pacific traditions. The stories are the connective tissue that keeps the facts together and makes them memorable (Kosara & Mackinlay, 2013). We refer to the Pacific tradition (e.g., Samoan, Tongan) independently, as the Pacific learners are about 11% of students of our school (Thompson, McDonald, Talakai, Taumoepeau, & Te

Ava, 2009). The Pacific cultural tradition is suitable for teaching other students from different cultural areas since most our students come from India and China.

2. Case Studies--multiple intertwined stories with an additional twist. The case study idea itself is not new. Probably the case study first was used at the Harvard Business School Lecture on "Commercial Law" scheduled 1908 (Kersten, 2014). A good case tells a story (Herreid, 2007, p. 46) with an interesting plot related to audience experiences. It must have a beginning and a middle. The end may not exist until students create it at the end of discussion. Case Studies are naturally intertwined with storytelling (Herreid, 1997, p. 93): "Humans are story-telling animals. Thus, the teacher using the case method has an immediate advantage. It is the advantage of gaining the attention of the audience."

3. Common Visual Language--symbols and methodology used to realize in-class visualization.

4. Knowledge Perspective--building knowledge through the constructivist learning process. …

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