Three-Week Lesson Plan to be incorporated in MGMT 311
Principles of Management Course
in the Four Year, Bachelors of Science Degree program offered by the Division of Business and Economics at the
West Virginia University at Parkersburg.
Vijay Shah, Ph.D.
The following is the description of a Three-Week Lesson Plan to be incorporated in the MGMT 311, Principles of Management Course. MGMT 311 is one of the first management core courses taken by a student enrolled in the Four Year, Bachelors of Science, Degree Program in Business. Usually, a student at this stage has completed most of the basic General Education classes pertaining to Reading, Writing, Math, Sciences and Social Sciences.
Lesson Plan Time Frame
The three week time span translates to about seven and half hours of classroom time. With that initial consideration, the teaching module is designed and organized as follows:
First class :
Time allocated: 1 hour, 15 min
Topic: Introduction to Brazil
Content and Mode:
a) 20 min Video Clip of Brazil (Source: " Brazil", International Video Network / " Brazil: New Land in the Tropics", Film for Science and Humanities/ Brazil Gold)
b) 30 min Power Point presentation prepared by myself.
I will use selected slides from the 75 picture slides and 75 text slides that I have prepared on Brazil, to introduce Brazil.
c) 25 min Talk on the " Brazil trip", intended to provide and overview of history, culture, environment, economic development, problems and experiences.
The remaining balance of 6 hours and 15 minutes of class time will be used by student presentations distributed over several in-class sessions spread out over the semester. The student presentations will take about 15 minutes of class time and will include questions/discussions on selected topics.
Lesson Plan Details and Content
During the semester each student will work on a project on a pre-selected or pre-approved topic. A list of possible topics will be provided along with the syllabus. The project will consist of a 5 page written paper, 10-minute presentation, and a 5-minute - 5 question post presentation written quiz and discussion. Total classroom time needed for all presentations over the semesters is estimated as 15 min X 25 (average number of students) = 375 minutes or 6 hours and 15 minutes.
The general theme of the project will be "International Business: Focus on Brazil", and the topic will be selected from either the following list or can be pre-approved.
List of Topics
- 1. Role of Culture and Language in
- a) Formal and Informal Communication
- b) Advertising and Marketing
- c) Business Practices
- d) Blunders in Business
- 2. Politics and Risk
- 3. Currency Fluctuations and Risk
- 4. Economic Development
- a) Sustainable Economic Development
- b) Real Plan
- c) Demographics and Future outlook
- d) Brazil as a dominant economy in South America
- e) MERCOSUL common Market
- 5. Corporate Social Responsibility
- 6. Ethics
- a) Environmental ethics
- b) Business ethics
- 7. Environmental Concerns
- a) Water Pollution
- b) Waste Disposal (Solid and nonsolid)
- c) Recycling
- d) Industrial Pollution
- e) Rainforest Ecosystems
- f) Desertification
- g) Logging
- h) Awareness and Education
- I) Slash and Burn
- j) Preservation of Biodiversity
- k) EcoTourism
- 8. Urban Problems
- a) Shanty townships in the cities
- b) Social problems
- 9. Legal System and Enforcement
- 10. Multinational Corporations (MNCs)
- a) Multinational Logging Companies
- b) Illegal Logging
Possible additional 45-minute Guest Lecture by Invited Brazilian Guests
I know a few friends from Brazil. Time permitting I would like to use an additional 45 minute class time for a guest lecture either by inviting Brazilian nationals from the community or by inviting some students from the WVU Brazil student organization. These students are enthusiastic and excited about a possible opportunity to speak about their home country to my class. I would like this meeting to end with a sampling of Brazilian food items, prepared by the participating students.
Narrative Description :
The content and method of incorporating the "Brazilian Experience" into the classroom by way of the above lesson plan is based on the following objectives.
1. Providing Flexibility of Choice.
Students have a wide variety of topics to choose from. They can also choose topics different than those provided in the list as long as they have discussed the relevance with the instructor and there is mutual agreement and understanding of what is expected. This approach implies every section of MGMT 311 class in the same semester will have a unique complexion of presentation topic mix, and it will also differ every semester. Every student group thus, has the opportunity to customize the mix to suit their own interests. It also provides the instructor opportunities to bring about different issues in classroom discussions catering to what a particular student group would like to learn.
2. Opportunity to Pursue Individual Student Interest
Students can pursue topic relevant to their own particular interest. It may result in better participation, interest and student learning.
3. Covering a broad spectrum of relevant topics in a short time.
The proposed approach allows the instructor to expose students to a wide variety of issues in a relatively short time. Breadth over depth is preferred here because the instructor feels that at this stage it would better serve student interests and program goals. It would tend to broaden their thinking from a wider spectrum of viewpoints.
4. Emphasizing Oral and Written Communications Skills.
Excellent written and oral communications skills are one of the most critical assets for Business students. Recruiters have repeatedly emphasized the desirability of these skills in future managers. The proposed approach provides a structured opportunity to practice and improve written and oral communications skills.
5. Creating environmental consciousness in future business managers early on in their careers.
It is important to educate and expose the future business managers to the consequence of environmental disasters and human domination of earth's ecosystems. Human alteration of Earth's ecosystems in general is substantial and growing. Land transformations, carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, surface water use, nitrogen fixation, plant invasion, bird extinctions, overexploitation of marine fisheries, ozone layer depletion, greenhouse effect, climatic changes, and waste pollution and disposal problems are some of the environmental issues they should be familiar with.
6. Exposing business students to concepts of corporate social responsibility and ethical issues early on in their program.
Corporate Social responsibility is the managerial obligation to take action that protects and improves both the welfare of the society as a whole and the interests of the organization. Industrial pollution, silicone implants, minority employment, and tobacco smoking in teens are some of the examples where corporate social responsibility can make a lot of difference in the community.
7. Provide a dynamic learning environment to introduce international business issues with one Country (Brazil) as the context.
In the past, I have incorporated International Business issues in my class as stand alone topics. Now we will study topics in international business with Brazil as the context country. I think using a context will lend a better background to understand the complexity, make it more interesting, and give a sort of completeness to the issues because they are now anchored in a definite context.
8. Provide a change in the monotony of usual class routine.
Usually, the student sees the class instructor talking. Instead, for a change, when they see their own classmate making a presentation they are likely to be more attentive.
The "Brazilian Experience "
The learning experience on our recent trip to Brazil was one of the most comprehensive, effective, and enriching experience one could wish for. According to my understanding, it combined a number of very effective approaches to learning.
1. Immersion in the Brazilian Environment .
Immersion in an environment full of dynamic gameplay between the environmental concerns raised by the international community and the national need for economic development and growth issues, set in the midst of looming political and economic instability.
2. Cultural Immersion
To develop a comprehensive understanding of the problems and issues faced by Brazil, it is very important to understand the history, people, the Brazilian society, culture, values etc.
The various activities designed during this seminar provided opportunities to experiences various facets of the Brazilian social fabric. Brazil has a unique ethnic blend concentrated differently around the country, giving a distinct complexion to each region along with its geographical and climatic characteristic. We had the opportunity to interact with people, see their forests and cities, eat their food, enjoy their sport, experience their culture and values, and more.
3. Exposure to the viewpoints of a wide variety of local experts from different areas of the society.
During the period four weeks we had the opportunity to listen and interact with experts from a variety of specialties including journalists, academics, environmental activists, officials from legal enforcement agencies, officials at various levels from different state and federal agencies at different locations, and officials from non governmental organizations (NGO's). This gave us an interesting diversity of viewpoints and insights on how different agencies/experts may see the same problem from a different perspective.
4) Exposure to different governmental and non-governmental agencies.
Governmental agencies rooted in political system and charged with solving a myriad of problems among conditions of uncertainty have a much different perspective than non government organizations whose see problems more at regional and a less complex level.
5) Opportunity to interact with colleagues having expertise in diverse areas.
We were a group of fourteen participants with a mix of disciplines ranging from history, geography, business, economics, foreign languages, agriculture, philosophy, humanities political scientists and sociologists. The opportunity to interact and discuss issues from the viewpoint of various discipline interests was another valuable learning opportunity.
6) Balanced Mix.
A delicate balance of academic, social and cultural activities fostered an interesting, enriching learning experience in a relatively pleasant environment.
We had an opportunity to establish contact with a wide variety of important sources (in Brazil as well as within our own group) to carry on further research or continuing learning partnership opportunities.
8) Resource Materials
We were provided with a comprehensive reading resources for building the "Environmental Issues and Economic Development" pre-seminar background.
9) Orientation Session.
There was an orientation session, which build on the reading resources, through lectures by experts in various fields that further prepared the participants for the trip.
10) Post Seminar Activities.
A number of post seminar activities to disseminate the wealth of gained knowledge and experience, integrated in the classroom and outside the classroom.
As described above in brief, the overall "Brazil Educational Experience" was a very comprehensive learning experience encompassing a wide variety of complex interrelated issues in areas including political, environmental, ecological, economical, cultural, urban, social, legal, and international factors centered on the continuous act of balancing overall growing human needs with the conservation of limited (in some cases already endangered) natural resources.
To recast or reproduce such a unique invaluable experience in the form of a series of one dimensional lectures in the classroom or assigning reading materials by itself will not accomplish the desired classroom objectives of providing an enriching and interesting learning experience for the students.
Rationale and Justifications
The idea of students selecting a topic pertaining to international business with Brazil as a main context of learning gives each one of the students the flexibility to pursue the topic of their interest with a reasonable degree of excitement. It is assumed here that the students will be sufficiently motivated if they can choose their assignments rather than not having the choice.
The series of each student presentation dispersed in regular in-class session mimics the feeling of immersion and integration, in the core management knowledge base. It also provides a continuing medium and context to discuss and bring in a diversity of complex international issues. Since each presentation during different class sessions will be on a different international business topic, in the context of only one foreign country Brazil, there is also some continuity maintained.
It also allows the inclusion of a wide variety of topics in a non-sequential manner somewhat mimicking the wide variety of learning experiences when immersed in an another country and culture, which the instructor experienced.
The lesson plan provides the necessary involvement in learning by giving students the opportunity to conduct the research using the reading materials or Internet resources provided. The students then write a paper on the topic on which they have researched.
This allows students to practice and improve their written communication skills (acquired through ENG 111 and ENG 112 Courses taken as a part of General Education requirements in the first two years before they start taking Business Core courses).
Further, the students give a short oral presentation about the topic they researched and wrote a paper on. This allows them to practice and improve their oral communication skills (acquired through SPCH 111 taken as a part of General Education requirements).
The administration of the 5 minute - 5 question written quiz will provide the student presenter the opportunity to focus, recall, and revisit five important aspect of the presented topic and allow the student audience to do the same. This final activity tries to reinforce learning and retention for the presenter as well as the audience students.
Overall, during the course of the semester, each student thus, will be exposed to about twenty-five presentations on a wide variety of international topics. These topics will be studied in context and in relation to Brazil. Each student will answer 125 questions focused on the most important aspects of the issues presented and discussed.
Each student will have the opportunity to hear twenty-five different presenters and learn from them not only the knowledge content but also the manner, skills and style of presentations. Also, the inherent diversity of presentations will allow me to bring into the classroom the wide variety of experiences from my Brazil trip into the context of the presentations in the classroom.
The placing of the context of studying international business issue using a one country (Brazil) theme is expected to develop better understanding than studying International issues as stand alone topics in itself without a context as done during the previous semesters (see old syllabus of MGMT 311, Fall 98). The inclusion of guest speakers will provide an opportunity to meet and experience first hand how the people look like, talk, etc. This part weakly tries to imitate the cultural immersion experienced by the instructor.
Many times issues that may appear very simple may be extremely complex and entwined with several other complex issues in reality. These complex relationships reveal themselves only when we look at a problem in light of many other problems that are closely related and sometimes at areas, which may seem totally unrelated.
This was my experience during my Brazil trip. On reading the material and hearing some initial presentations the problem of "favelas" and pollution seemed very simple. However, as we heard more and more about the different issues, from different speakers and agencies, I began to develop more insights and deeper and more complete understanding. Soon I began to observe that the "favela" problem was closely linked and rooted deep in factors such as concentrated economic development in urban areas, historical disparity of income, disparity of land ownership, population growth, demographics, and politics.
The solution, which at first seemed just an ordinary solution of resettlement into additional housing, needed much more holistic approach. Instead of creating alternate housing facilities, the need was to create communities and integrate them with main stream communities in the urban areas. Simultaneously, all necessary infrastructral facilities like water, sewage, education, job opportunities, hospitals, etc. had to be provided and problems like class discriminations had to be dealt with from being a barrier. I began to realize that it would at least take a generation or two to eliminate a seemingly simple problem like class discrimination of the "favela" community by the main stream urban society because of a very simple reason of easily identifiable communities living in "favelas".
I feel that the structure and content design of the proposed lesson plan along with the selection of topics allows better scope for me to initiate discussions of such relationships,
further facilitating complex issues to emerge and reveal itself during the student class presentations.
The structure and the content of this lesson plan also allows the flexibility of readily orienting this module for any other areas like History, Ecology, Environment, Geography etc.. The only aspect that need some change for adoption to other areas is the range of topics. For example the range of topics for geography could include cultural geography, urban planning, ecosystems, desertification, landslides, physical geography, GIS systems etc.
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