Experiential Learning of Project Management

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipientKamal Masri, Beedie School of Business

Project teamTaranveer Bains and Madeline Millsip, research assistants

Timeframe: August 2015 to December 2016

Funding: $5,000

Course addressed: BUS 361 – Project Management

Final report: View Kamal Masri's final project report (PDF)

Description: A new method of group learning has been introduced in my project management class BUS361 during the Fall 2013 semester and repeated in Fall 2014. The method is a departure from the standard structure of having small groups of students (4-6) planning and executing a minor project of their choosing. The new method encourages total class collaboration to plan and execute a multi-pronged project with a single unified goal. Specifically, I have partnered with the Canadian Cancer Society to raise over $25,000 per semester directly from the student project.

The BUS361 course objective is two-fold: for students to learn project management concepts, and to simulate a real-life complex project structure with many unknown variables. The class consists of a traditional lecture component to deliver concepts, and an informal project discussion to give project status reports and trouble-shoot unexpected issues.

Similar to a firm, students are organized into departments (event teams) and functional committees responsible for managing cross-departmental concerns and needs. Such structure simulates the complexity of the cross functional co-operation needed to execute a project. Overall, students gain organizational experience and are able to witness the efforts of their work.

The course has received positive feedback from students. However, no fact-based measure has been used to evaluate differences in student learning through this method when compared to the previous, standard method. Therefore the objective of this study is to better understand the impact of this teaching method on student learning of both project management tools and techniques as well as working in a complex organizational structure.

Questions addressed:

  • Does learning project management through experiential techniques lead to better understanding of project management concepts?
  • Does a large-scale integrated project lead to a higher level of student engagement in the class?
  • Does the integrated project lead to improved understanding of organizational structure?

Knowledge sharing: There is a bi-weekly talk series at the Beedie School of Business to discuss research with other faculty members. I expect to use one or more of these to present my project to my colleagues.  The ultimate objective is to make the results of this project/research publicly available. I intend to submit one or more papers to conferences and publications. Specifically, I will target the Administrative Sciences Association of Canada annual conference (as early as 2016 with preliminary discussion) and the Journal of Management Education.