By Prashant Kumar Pathak
Organisations are increasingly concerned about the gap between what is expected by the industry and what newly minted graduates actually deliver. The problem however is not limited to India alone – a McKinsey study claims that only 42 percent of international organisations believe that recent graduates are ready for work. Another study revealed that 49% of employers struggle to fill vacant job posts.
The widening skill-gap across the world poses several questions: what is wrong with the current learning methodology? Why can’t graduates apply their academic knowledge to situations they face in the real world? Academicians and industry have been struggling to find answers to these questions.
Psychologists say that learning is significantly influenced by the depth of experience one undergoes during the training. So the question any educational institution needs to reflect on is this: how can it create high impact experiences that become a part of the learner for life?
In the year 1870, a dean at Harvard Law School started to provide real-world exposure to students through case-based learning. Finding it conducive to learning, Harvard Business School adopted case-based learning in 1920 and Harvard Medical School followed suit in in 1985. Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad was established in collaboration with Harvard Business School in 1961 and adopted a case-study based pedagogy at its inception.
A case-based pedagogy recreates situations faced by senior business managers in the form of a narrative capturing the key issues facing these managers. Students come to the class pre-equipped with solutions to the case. For the next hour or so, the whole class is transported into a new world: characters in the case come alive as students fill the shoes of senior managers, VP’s and CEO’s and try and provide solutions to the problem at hand.
The instructor plays a vital role in the entire discussion: he synthesizes the thoughts and opinions of students, pushes them to reflect on hidden issues and finally directs the class towards possible solutions and the optimal solution among them.
Various mediums such as videos, animations, role plays help to make the case discussion as lively as possible. In this process, different concepts are absorbed without much effort.
Case-analysis usually ends with the preparation of an after-class note (called reflection paper) summarizing the learning and application of the case thereby creating a lasting impressions in students’ mind.
One of the basic differentiators of a case-based pedagogy is the role of students in classroom discussions. Students are the main drivers of the case discussions and the learning the class gains is directly proportional to the diversity, intelligence and work-experience of students.
And this is what sets the PGPX apart.
With extensive work experience, typically ranging between 5 and 15 years, the class has a wealth of knowledge gained not from books, but from working at top companies in managerial roles, a diversity of ideas, as well as a clarity of purpose: the PGPX class of 2016 for instance comprises of 85 individuals, each of whom had a successful career in top companies and decided carefully on an MBA as a way to propel them into the next leg of their careers – into leadership roles.
With their extensive past work experience, these students can easily connect with situations being discussed in class and can apply newly learnt concepts to come up with unique and practical solutions to the problem at hand that will pass muster if deployed in the real world.
And the results are there for everyone to see. PGPX alumni hit the ground running and have reported the ability to apply the acquired knowledge from very first day of joining the industry.
It is no surprise that IIM A’s PGPX programme is ranked No.2 for career progression in the world and ranked 26th overall in the prestigious Financial Times Global MBA Ranking.
Contributing blogger Prashant Kumar Pathak is an MBA (PGPX) student at IIM Ahmedabad