360 Learning: Achieving mastery in different ways

360 Learning: Achieving mastery in different ways

In the past Financial Modelling courses I taught, I would always use the same case study for the exams, but often felt the limitations of this. First, the students were only exposed to problems in one domain of finance. If they weren’t interested in this domain, then their motivation to solve the case study was lessened. Second, there were only a few ways to solve the case-study so I felt that it stunted their creativity. What I wanted for my students was a challenging multi-faceted activity that would make them apply critical thinking in different ways. As I hadn’t come across an activity that satisfied my needs, I decided to develop one myself.

What I ended up creating was an assignment that achieved a profound level of mastery of the subject for the students by creating original work, and left me with a new case library!

What I created was a three-step activity.

Step One –students designed a financial modeling case in a group. To succeed, they would need to understand empirical and quantitative methods in financial modeling. Though I must admit, the most interesting part of this step was where the students were pulling their information from. They were using ideas from other courses they had such as marketing, corporate finance, strategy – so without even meaning to do so – I created a multidisciplinary assignment! This first step of mastery was achieved by having the students synthesize their understanding of financial modeling with prior knowledge they had in another course.

The second step was to solve a financial modeling case. Once each group handed in their case, they needed to solve another group’s case. Knowing that it would be reviewed by another group ensured a certain level of quality, as few students are comfortable with receiving negative reviews from their peers. Solving another group’s work, not only allows students to see how financial modelling can be applied in a different field but also help them achieve mastery of the methods because they are applying it in a context they are unfamiliar with.

Finally, the last step brings the students to a level of mastery that is close to that of a professor (almost!). In the final phase a groups’ solution is corrected again by a completely different group. Here they ask themselves questions such as: Did this group find the best model?  Where could they have improved on the application of this model? What did they fail to analyze that brought them to the wrong solution?

At each stage of the process I reviewed my students work, and at each stage I gained more and more confidence in my pedagogical design as the students engaged in the material. They were thoughtful in both their execution and in their critiques and considerations. In wanting to find a meaningful assignment for my students, I ended up creating one of the most fulfilling assignments in my courses. Fulfilling for both me and my students.

Sabrina ChikhSabrina Chikh, Professor of Finance, SKEMA Business School

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