The MBA Classroom Experience
The MBA classroom is a place where professors wear captain hats and students play basketball. Confused? Let me explain.
Classroom learning is the key part of any MBA. However, at Foster, the small class size (about 50 students in each of the two sections) allows for an immersive and personalized learning experience. Students get to know professors on an individual level and also spend more time discussing and debating important topics. This was unlike any other classroom experience for me and I’d love to tell you more about it.
Case studies are an important part of the MBA classroom. Most concepts taught have an associated case study, which allows students to apply their learnings in a business context. Many a times, case studies are also used to introduce new topics or highlight the nuances involved in real-world applications. One such case was related to shipping vessel acquisition, which our class had a fun time discussing. The professor even wore a captain’s hat during the lecture!
These are the discussions which make case-based learning exciting. Each student brings to class a different perspective, informed by their lived experiences. It was interesting to see how everyone looked at the case differently and offered different ways to solve the same problem. Sometimes, these lead to intense discussions, all of which adds to the highly interactive classroom experience.
The Warm Call (and Pass)
To ensure that everyone has their voice heard, professors moderate class discussions and inputs. One such moderation technique, which was new to me, is the warm call. Students are notified in advance that they will be called upon in class to share their thoughts. This allows students to prepare their responses which improves the quality of discussion.
However, the most interesting aspect was “the pass.” While warm calling is designed to encourage class participation, it is not meant to quiz students. When called upon, if a student does not have anything to share, they can choose to enlist help from peers or even pass to speak later. For me, this passing showcases the camaraderie within our community, where everyone is willing to step in and help one another. It has also provided some memorable moments of comic relief.
Apart from case studies and discussions, many professors devise classroom activities to showcase concepts in action. The course on Leading teams and Organizations (LTO) included several activities to demonstrate various aspects of leadership. One such activity was playing mini-basketball as a team to get the max number of points from free throws. The catch was that each free throw should be taken by a different player and start further away from the basket.
The solution involved identifying the strengths of each team member and then coming up with a lineup which can maximize the team’s points. Employing strategies learnt in the class, almost all of the teams were able to improve their score. While it was a fun exercise, the lessons and insights about team management were unforgettable.
An MBA class would be incomplete without student presentations. Throughout the year, these presentations have taken various forms – presenting independent research, expounding new solutions, analyzing mini case studies, etc. My favorite presentations are case-study presentations where students learn about companies and their business decisions as they relate to in-class concepts. From the story of Slack to the best Super Bowl ads, these presentations have given me sneak-peeks and insights about industries about which I know very little.
These presentations have also introduced me to different styles/methods of presenting ideas. Consultants, marketers, product managers and finance managers; everyone has their own way. Some are data heavy, whereas others focus on conveying the message in the simplest possible terms. Each method has its pros and cons. But it is only by listening to several in-class presentations that I was able to compare them and develop my own way of presenting.
Across my two years at Foster, there have been several memorable experiences in the classroom. I have had enriching discussions with my peers, learnt from classmate’s lived experiences, enjoyed listening to some of the best presenters and shared great moments with my classmates. All of this while I’ve been developing key business skills.
Learn more about the Foster MBA curriculum class here and join us for a Shadow Day to see our professors in action.