Enjoying your classes, and truly learning from them is an important part of the MBA experience. Yet somehow we don’t think about it until we’re actually sitting in a class and wondering why we’re not as enthralled as we had hoped.
Indeed, when selecting MBA programs, many of us focus on what factors that will affect our career opportunities post-graduation. That makes sense, since the main purpose of business school is career advancement. But it’s important not to entirely discount more short-term elements that will determine how much we gain from the entire experience.
Teaching methodology is one of these factors. It can vary considerably across MBA programs, and it can make the difference between loving your classes and being inspired to challenge yourself academically, or hating every moment of it and wondering why you’re not learning anything.
Check out this visualization:
- Discussing: This is the case method of teaching, pioneered by HBS since 1908. Students are presented with an uncertain business scenario, and spend time discussing possible solutions. Good for people comfortable with debate and who enjoy it as a learning tool. Not ideal for less vocal people, or those who enjoy a more practical learning process.
- Listening: This is the more traditional lecture-based teaching model, where students sit in class and listen to the professor. It works well for theoretical thinkers and auditory learners, but can spell failure for people who learn by doing or who are easily distracted.
- Doing: This includes experiential courses, group projects, simulations, and basically any setting where practical hands-on experience (actual or simulated) is used as a teaching tool. This is ideal for people who learn by doing, or who need to see concepts applied in practice in order to best understand them. Yet it can be frustrating for people looking for clear concepts to learn and apply.
Different teaching methodologies suit different people, and finding a place that fits your learning style is important when it comes to picking an MBA program, since what you learn (or fail to learn) in business school will affect your professional life for years to come. Not to mention, it will increase the likelihood that you truly enjoy the academic side of your MBA experience.
So definitely investigate this thoroughly. Schools are very open about this sort of information and much of it is conveniently aggregated by Businessweek in its MBA profiles. You can also get a sense for it first hand by talking to current students and attending classes. Don’t wait until it’s too late!