Learning Complexities in Indian Business Education-Package Effect
Dr. H.K.S. Kumar Chunduri is currently working as Associate Director – ASA, Indian School of Business, Hyderabad. He is Operational Lead for ASA department, supported AACSB Accreditation Process and directs a team of Managers and Academic Associates. Formerly, he has been a faculty at Shinas College of Technology, Sultanate of Oman. Earlier to that was with ISB again as Manager & Academic Associate. Prior to ISB, he worked as Associate Professor at Mahaveer Institute of Science & Technology. He has contributed most of his services in the areas of teaching and academic administration.
Dr. Kumar possesses a handful of achievements and credentials like being awarded as a Best Teacher twice in his career, Visiting Faculty at IGNOU, Siva Sivani Institute of Management and Arora Business School etc. He is an extraordinary academic administrator with a very clear understanding of management of academics in a B-School.
Indian business education is posing ever challenges to educators. In the Engineering / Technology verticals the predominant risk is with the teachers who need to work out continuously on levels of “self-update and being contemporary”. The concern could be in terms of subject intensity, fine tuning the skills (akin to laboratory experiments) and being contemporary. These components cannot be directly comparable to teachers in business education domain. Either in engineering or in technology, most of the times, the teachers do bring the concepts to classroom which are unfamiliar to students. The challenging task for faculty is to efficiently transform the knowledge which has never been a simple job to do.
Often the vulnerability lies in this context for the teachers who are in business sphere at a specific master’s level unlike to US system. Most of the topics or concepts lined up for discussion in classroom are neither unfamiliar nor complex. This delicacy is increasing the difficult front to forecast the methods / techniques to deal with classroom environment. These are not technical concepts to make the content very focused so that students cannot afford to move an inch. Instead, these are the thoughts which need careful knitting of sequence of discussion throughout the two hour session. Only after completing the whole session the “take-aways” does make sense. At least, this is the practice to my knowledge in most of the B-Schools. Another bigger challenge is to effectively manage the attention of students in this two hour session.
I am sure that the top rated faculty members do consider one more aspect as more challenging than the one discussed above. After discussing with some of them, I could very well realize the pressure on them. Managing the class is like a cake walk for all of them. Their concern is much broader in perspective i.e. value addition. They have to figure out ways to blend the “not so complex” business topics with the “complex” in addition to some value addition in them. Another facet of challenge is the disparity in classroom among the students. Unlike the technical students who are all on same levels in terms of age, experience and knowledge (spectrum being narrower), the business classroom is full of complexities. The students’ hail from diverse backgrounds with lots of variation like
- There are classrooms consisting of students ranging from a “fresher” to “senior” candidate possessing an experience of ten plus years.
- There is apparently a diverse background which prevails and ranges from a graduate from engineering to medicine, to accounts, to science, to arts and to sports etc. there is a likely possibility to have an artist, a scientist, a senior surgeon, a naval logistics specialist and a most favorite hockey player in this group.
- There are instances with students representing all stages in life cycle i.e. from a bachelor to a newly married person, to be a father of two kids, to be a mother of three kids and to be a widowed person.
- There are few more characteristics which might have similarities with technical groups as well like geography, nationality, culture, financial muscle etc.
This complex set up is similar to a roller coaster ride and demands every faculty member to pull up their socks and gear up. While there are multi-dilemmas, the armor to successfully sail this fete contain not many. The classroom teaching, usage of black board (green board over a period of time…….and white board), were predominantly in the available resources. Technology blessed equipments like OHPs (Over Head Projectors) took a little lead and quickly added the LCD Projectors. PPTs were certainly handy, but all this discussion is on “utilities” and still the weapon to answer the “complex” set of students’ needs is unearthed.
When I raised this concern with some eminent members in business teaching fraternity, I could see perplexed faces. The surprise is all about my inability in counting on the existing tools / techniques. My question is not about the list of the methods in use but about the “package effect”. Let it be a “role play” based discussion, let it be a “group discussion” based or the relatively much appreciated mode of “case” based discussions. The point here is “are we as academicians adding value to this young generation?” and for me at least, it is unanswered. Specifically this question is raised by the end users in the system called “employers”. A large chunk of employer base is not happy with the kind of output being cultivated by our business education system. Though not defending them, we need to retrospect our processes carefully and critically in order to ensure that the “significance” is being built in the model. Every level ranging from filtration of the input quality, contemporary curriculum design, effective delivery of academic program, “picture perfect” Learning & Development module, “perfect fit” placements and building strong alum connectivity etc are important points to ponder. The continuous industry inputs and a quick turnaround to their demanding requirements, although challenging but are imperative for a business institute to imprint its mark and become sustainable in the long run.
Following the footsteps of leaders always not necessarily result in success. Lots of good examples can be easily figured out. The problem is not in collating resources but inability in replicating the “inimitable strategies”. Success comes in the way, if the system is determined to practice the “package effect” of business education and ability to interminably cherish the larger picture in future.