All academy symposium

Prof Gillian Sullivan Mort and Clare D’Souza will present at the 71st Academy of Management, symposium in San Antonio, USA, on the theme “West Meets East: Enlightening, Balancing, and Transcending”.

Ensuring and enhancing quality in higher education is one of the key concerns of all educators, national quality assurance agencies and multilateral organizations (UNESCO, 2005). One significant approach to enhancing quality of learning in higher education has been to develop and embed experiential learning (Kolb, 1984) in the higher education curriculum. Harvard University originated the experiential technique of case study method (Garvin, 2003), a technique now widely used in business schools. A spectrum of experiential learning activities has been suggested (Tonkin & Tucker, 2006) locating case method toward the lower interaction end with study tour, field work and industry learning at the higher end of the spectrum.

This presentation will provide an analysis of the China Study Tour 2010 conducted by La Trobe University, School of Management, in cooperation with the Central University of Finance and Economics, Beijing for a group of 50 advanced undergraduate students. La Trobe University was established in 1963 on one main campus in suburban Melbourne, Australia, and now with five country campuses, has a student body of 25,000 with 13% being international students. The partner university, Central University of Finance and Economics, one of China’s key universities under the direct leadership of the Ministry of Education, has 15,000 students on two Beijing campuses.

The China Study Tour was distinguished by its brief though structured nature, visits to two China city locations, immersion in the Chinese cultural setting, company site visits and briefings, lectures from host university academics, cultural visits, pre and post departure lectures, academics rigor in assessment requiring a problem solving approach, use of reflective diaries in assessment and leisure opportunities to explore independently and meet Chinese people and students. It was also characterized by including a representatively diverse group of La Trobe students – from regional and city campus, mature and young age, international students (from South America, Japan, Saudi Arabia and China), full and part time. A number of advantages and challenges will be explored including the study tour role in a range of experiential learning, and implications for West meet East in the international classroom.