Michaelsen Heads to Australia as Senior Fulbright Scholar
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (May 30, 2008) – Team-Based Learning and the Integrative Business Experience have proven to be effective tools in teaching business students at the University of Central Missouri. As a Senior Fulbright Scholar, Larry Michaelsen, UCM professor of management, now has the opportunity to spread the word about theses innovative approaches to learning to faculty members on the other side of the globe.
Michaelsen heads to host institution, the University of Sydney, Australia, in late July to prepare for a seminar tour that takes him to the cities of Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, Aug. 16-26. He’ll stop in New Zealand for another seminar before setting his feet on American soil in early September.
“It’s a chance to change the educational experience for a lot of students and make it more meaningful,” Michaelsen said in talking about what he hopes to accomplish as Fulbright Scholar.
A sought-after speaker in areas such as TBL and IBE, Michaelsen is the senior editor of the book, Team-Based Learning: A Transformative Use of Small Groups in College Teaching. He began developing the TBL approach to teaching in 1979 after encountering significant growth in class size as a teacher at the University of Oklahoma. As his classes began to expand, he explored ways to help positively engage students in learning without letting them get lost in the crowd. He opted for a less-traditional approach.
“In traditional teaching, you get the content covered through lectures, discussion or individual study, and most of the responsibility for course content is up to the teacher,” he noted.
Students Share Responsiblity for Learning
Under TBL, instead of passively receiving information from the teacher, Michaelsen said students share the responsibility for learning by working in teams. Team-oriented activities begin the first day of the semester and last throughout the course, giving students an opportunity to learn from their peers. These activities also help them develop important life skills such as better interpersonal communication and accountability.
He said this comprehensive small-group instructional process is now being used in more than 150 academic disciplines and at more than 200 schools in the United States and in 20 foreign countries. These are numbers he hopes to change through his workshops.
Learning and Sharing with the Community
Michaelsen is just as passionate about garnering support for the Integrative Business Experience program, another innovative learning approach that he brought to UCM. The program requires students to create and operate a real business. Since its inception in the Harmon College of Business during the 2003-04 academic year, student-led IBE companies have raised more than $100,000 in profits, all donated to local charities.
“It changes the classroom from a dispensing-information setting to one where students think through, with help from their professors, what they have learned, why it is important to their future, and how can they use it,” Michaelsen said.
The program is offered each fall and spring semester and is based on the concept that experience is the best teacher. Students who enroll in the IBE classes are divided into companies, each comprised of about 25-30 students most of whom were strangers at the beginning of the class. Within a 15-week period, they select their own leadership, determine a product, develop a business plan, and secure a bank loan of up to $5,000 to provide working capital. The loan must be repaid by the end of the semester – a challenge that has been met by every student group which has ever participated in Central Missouri’s IBE program.
While gaining first-hand experience in the business arena, IBE students also to give back to the community. Beyond students selecting charities of their choice to benefit from any profits raised, the program has a public service component, allowing students to get involved in hands-on opportunities that will serve local non-profit agencies. Organizing a food drive to benefit local families in need and organizing the effort to create a six-mile bike trail at Knob Noster State Park are just a few of many examples of ways that students have served the local community.
Seasoned International Scholar
Being a Fulbright Scholar is nothing new to Michaelsen. In the summer of 2004, not long after he initiated the IBE program at UCM, he received a Fulbright award to the Institute of Technology in Bandung, Indonesia, where he helped introduce IBE. Students involved in that Indonesian program have initiated public service projects that have ranged from funding a village’s first paved road to setting up a community water purification system – and the list keeps growing.
In addition to his visit to Australia this summer, Michaelsen will maintain a hectic pace accepting invitations elsewhere to conduct workshops on the Integrative Business Experience and Team-Based Learning. His travel schedule began in May and has already taken him to the Citadel – The Military College of South Carolina, State University of New York-Albany, New Mexico State University, University of Texas-El Paso, and Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania.