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Experiential Learning & Teaching in Higher Education

Abstract

In turbulent economic times, tuition-driven universities often search for impactful ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Differentiators may be particularly important in MBA programs, which are among the more lucrative academic offerings. The present study tracked participant reflections from the coaching component of an MBA leadership certificate program through Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle (concrete experience, reflections, abstract conceptualizations, active experimentation) and the coaches’ roles during the cycle as educators. We paired participants with professional coaches and community leaders so they could create and achieve their goals and action plans. During their time meeting with their coaches (concrete experiences), 70 percent reported interactions indicating they had developed personal relationships. Upon reflection, 90 percent reported interactions with a subject matter expert who analyzed and organized the subject matter of their discussions. While conceptualizing, 90 percent reported their coach set standards or performance objectives. When actively testing their conceptualizations, 70 percent reported their coach provided one-on-one developmental feedback. Results provide empirical support for components of Kolb and Kolb’s (2017) Experiential Learning Theory in learning and the acquisition of knowledge, along with practical implications for those establishing coaching programs and leadership certificates in academia.

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