Blue

Workshop Diversity-Learning Creativity


Dr. Sigrun Wagner, School of Management

Email: sigrun.m.wagner@royalholloway.ac.uk, Twitter: @DrWagner_RHUL

Background

The following workshop methods are designed to encourage students to engage in all workshop activities and to participate fully in teaching and learning. This is achieved through the diversity and variety of the workshops, which do not follow one standard design or delivery format. This increases student engagement and enables students of different learning and working styles to get the most out their studies, whether as individuals, in pairs, in small groups or as part of two (debating/negotiating) sides. The workshops relate to the European Business course – a half unit for final year students in the School of Management. Short summaries of the workshop methods are provided below, followed by student feedback on the sessions.


Delivery: Eight workshops, eight different methods

 

1. Extraction of key information and themes

Students are asked to read 5 newspaper articles of their choice, relating to the course topic (European Business) and to extract key themes. In pairs, students are asked to agree on 5 key themes. In groups of four, the students are then asked to agree on 3 key themes, which they then share with the whole workshop (pyramid method). This provides the opportunity to put the course into a current affairs context, relating the key themes to the topics covered on the course and address those that might not be part of it.

Skills developed: information processing, information summary and synthesis, communication.

 

2. Academic article: Application to lecture content

Students are required to engage with an academic article and then to apply their understanding of it to the content of the lecture. The academic article covers a thought-provoking case (ban on tobacco advertising) and enables students to discuss the role of European Union institutions within a concrete context, thus moving from abstract theory to empirical evidence from an academic perspective.

Skills developed: application, analysis, evaluation.

 

3. Corporate case study: Application to lecture content

To provide a contrast to the academic article in the previous week, a corporate case study is chosen and provided for this workshop. In addition, students are asked to choose a company that has been affected by EU enlargement and to compare and contrast this with the case study provided. This ensures that students cover one case jointly and engage with a case of their own choice.

Skills developed: application, analysis, interpretation.

 

4. Formal debate

This workshop consists of a discussion on Turkey’s EU membership. In the previous workshop, students are asked whether they wish to see Turkey join the EU or not. They are allocated a debating side according to the opposite of their personal preference, thus challenging and stimulating their intellectual abilities. Rules are introduced to ensure a considered and emotion-free, mature discussion, which is chaired by a student volunteer.

Skills developed: chairing a debate, arguing opposite viewpoints (communication skills), evaluation.

 

5. Small group presentations

This workshop consists of short presentations by small groups on questions collected from students two weeks earlier, which means that students not only participate in formulating the questions (with a positive impact on motivation), but also have a choice of questions (within a set topic) and one week to prepare. Some tutor involvement is required to ensure reasonably equal numbers within groups.

Skills developed: comprehension, organisation of group work, synthesis, communication.

 

6. Role play

In this workshop, students are given a one-page brief about a lobbying topic prior to the workshop. During the workshop they are allocated a stakeholder role, on their own or within teams (companies, NGOs, EU institutions, print media), and given a role-specific brief with goals and instructions on how to proceed. Additional information through the “publication” of print media editions adds dynamic to the role play, which ends in a debriefing, discussing observations and lessons. Note: Role play developed by a colleague.

Skills developed: transferable skills (communication), application, analysis and synthesis.

 

7. Discussion of three different areas within one topic

In this workshop there is no prior allocation and students can choose from three different areas of consumer protection, according to personal preference. Joint questions allow all students to participate, whilst case-specific questions allow more focused coverage within small groups, subsequently shared with the whole class.

Skills developed: application, evaluation.

 

8. Simulation of Negotiations

This workshop is in the form of a simulation of trade negotiations between the EU and the US based on their dispute over Boeing and Airbus. Each group is given a short brief on their goals and the background. The groups have to appoint chief negotiators (US trade representative and EU director general for trade) and decide on corporate observers, whilst one student is appointed chair of negotiations (director general of World Trade Organisation). A debrief ends this session with lessons learnt from the negotiations.

Skills developed: transferable skills (e.g. negotiations in workplace, communications), comprehension.

 

Feedback

The student feedback for the workshops on this course has been overwhelmingly  positive. Both verbally during the course, written in the feedback forms and in subsequent encounters, students have commented on the variety and interesting nature of the workshops, described as “fun”, “engaging”, “very interesting”, “interactive”.

The following are (verbatim) quotes from students’ comments on the back of the end-of-course feedback sheets, demonstrating the beneficial effects on student learning and engagement:

-   “The best part of this course is the various activities that keep students engaged during the workshops. The variety makes the workshops very interesting and clarifies issues & theories discussed during the lectures”

-   “I really liked the creativity of the teaching. (…) Debates and all, the workshop group work really helps to understand better all the cases.”

-   “The course was very interactive and all students were encouraged to participate. (…) Another factor that made the workshops so fun is the opportunity to work and communicate with other students. This was a great way to get each others opinions and thoughts on all subjects covered. Also, the fact that we were encouraged to contradict our own opinions helped especially when it came to writing our essays.”

-   “Workshops are very interactive and fun.”

-   “Sigrun helped motivate and involve the students in class discussions.”

-   “The workshops were especially good as the methods of teaching/learning & the activities carried out were different from week to week.”

-   “I really enjoyed the seminars, I found them really useful and stimulating. The activities were varied and I felt really comfortable so I was able to participate and had lots of opportunities to work with others and learn from them.”

 

See other case studies on our Seminars and workshops page