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Professor Employs ‘Apprentice’ to Reinforce Management Concepts


Gerri F. LukeThe incorporation of “reality television” into the real-life management curriculum at Pennsylvania College of Technology drew praise at last month’s American Business World International Conference in Nashville, Tenn.

Gerri F. Luke, assistant professor of business administration/marketing in the college’s School of Business and Computer Technologies, received a “Best Presentation Award” from faculty peers at the May 29-31 conference. Her paper, “Linking Academic Learning to Actual Experiences: Using Reality TV in the Classroom,” detailed how Principles of Management students connected in-class concepts to what they saw on television’s “The Apprentice.”

The popular NBC show, which just ended its fifth season, features challengers vying for a dream job and six-figure salary with businessman Donald Trump. Through a series of assigned tasks designed to gauge their aptitude and character, contestants try to avoid the boss’ trademark “You’re fired” that sternly ends each episode.

By requiring weekly viewing and journal entries, Luke was able to help the 25 students identify classroom concepts through the trials of their broadcast counterparts. The group readily linked the prospective Trump employees’ successes and failures to some of the management ideas taught in class: planning, organizing, leading and controlling.

In addition, a focus group was arranged through the college’s Instructional Technology and Distance Learning office near the end of the semester to discussthe series.

“The journal entries, in combination with the classroom discussions, helped many students progress through the learning by vicariously experiencing concepts presented in class and then lived” on screen, Luke wrote. “It offered an opportunity or a bridge from which to connect: to students, to theory and concepts, to staged reality to lived experience.”

With many of her students expressing a personal lack of experience and with much of the academic literature recognizing the knowledge gained from real-world examples of classroom theory Luke believes faculty members have a responsibility to provide that experience, even if in the form of “staged” reality.

“The goal should be to create experiences that only begin to reflect the adversity and struggles we all experience in reality,” she added. “Researchers, who have reported on the value of experiential learning, provide a convincing indication that learning accelerates when the student is able to link concepts/theories to actual experience.”

The full text of Luke’s paper is available online . The conference was attended by faculty from colleges and universities all over the country, representing both undergraduate and graduate programs. There also was a good representation from other countries, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, Scotland and Taiwan.

“Both the collegiality and presentations were thought-provoking and provided me with many ideas for further research and different activities to use in the classroom,” Luke said.

For more information about academic majors offered by the School of Business and Computer Technologies at Penn College, call (570) 327-4512, send e-mail or visit on the Web.

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