One of the pleasures of facilitating Bethel’s MBA classes is the wealth of experiences, both personal and professional, adult students bring to the table. I am always amazed at how candid and open students are willing to be. In marketing classes especially, these experiences enrich the weekly discussions.
Students have been consumers all their lives; they’ve been on the receiving end of marketers’ plans. They’ve seen the best and worst of customer service. There’s usually someone who’s a budget shopper and someone who enjoys a brand-name product at full price. In addition, we always have a good cross-section of industries represented, so we can explore the same issues from the company perspective. How does their company develop products or train its sales force? How does it do market research? What’s it doing with social media? How does the company react to new regulations?
The very best discussions come about as students describe these experiences against the backdrop of marketing theory. The gaps they perceive allow us to think critically about how theory plays out in the real world and what might be causing the variability that they have observed. The active learning that ensues and the light bulb moments that occur (even though, as an online MBA instructor, I can’t see that “ah-ha” in their eyes) are part of the real joy of teaching.
Anne Austin has enjoyed teaching marketing for almost 30 years. Her curiosity enables her to consider life as one long marketing field trip, an approach she encourages her students to embrace.