This is how I teach
This month we spoke with Dr Ankit Agarwal, Lecturer, and Program Director for the Bachelor of Business (Management) in the Adelaide Business School. Here Ankit explains how he utilises students' real world experiences to encourage a deeper understanding of business concepts and theories.
How would you describe your approach to teaching/your teaching philosophy?
Embracing a transformative mindset is at the core of my teaching philosophy, which blends igniting enthusiasm for business concepts with nurturing a transformative mindset. This harmony bridges academic rigour with real-life experiences, drawing from diverse family experiences to link academic theories with practical practices. Similarities can be drawn between how families operate and the organisational environment, as both have their own versions of enhancing morale and individual motivation. For instance, I draw a parallel between familial encouragement and a manager-led organisation’s version of motivation; organisational collaboration requiring harmonious cooperation, just as families collaborate during special occasions; a shared family culture significantly impacting both the workplace and home life; resolving conflicts at home mirroring the ability to communicate effectively in the workplace; parental guidance reveals essential leadership characteristics; and so on. It is this dynamic mix that enhances comprehension, enabling students to apply lessons across a variety of contexts. Students benefit from a holistic understanding of business by connecting their family’s decision-making dynamics with managerial choices. As part of my teaching philosophy, I nurture lifelong learners equipped with critical thinking skills to manage complexity effectively. I do so by keeping their family experiences and my own at the centre of class discussions.
What do you like most about teaching in your discipline?
The opportunity to teach in my management discipline provides me with abundant joy as I watch students' "aha" moments as they relate their family stories to intricate business concepts.Ankit Agarwal
For instance, using a family road trip analogy of how supply chain challenges can be explained, ignites their interest in understanding intricate logistics. The opportunity to witness the integration of their family experiences with business fundamentals is a privilege. Through the dynamic interplay between personal anecdotes and business theories, students gain a deeper understanding of lessons and extend them to other situations. Further, learning is not a one-way street but a reciprocal process. I strongly believe in a dialogue-driven approach in which discussions go beyond classrooms. As I openly share my experiences, I allow students to question and reflect upon their circumstances. In relating their own experiences to mine and discussing the concepts we are discussing, we become a collective endeavour to find the most effective solutions for the challenges at hand. We learn together how our experiences are central to our learning journey by reflecting on how we deal with life and handle different situations as we navigate life. Students provide me with this kind of reciprocal exchange of insights.
How does your teaching help prepare students for their future?
My teaching philosophy prepares students for a future where adaptability is critical. Integrating familial values into our business discussions fosters versatile thinkers who understand that management extends beyond the office walls. Connecting family decision-making patterns with organisational strategies enhances our ability to refine nuanced problem-solving skills. Future readiness is more than rote learning; it is about developing a mindset incorporating academic insight into everyday life. It is not uncommon for students to share photographs from work discussing concepts such as Herzberg's theories with management. As a result of these applications, students and educators gain a greater understanding of content covered in the classroom and benefit from it. This approach aims to develop students’ capability to navigate uncertainties, embrace change, contribute meaningfully to multiple aspects of life, and understand the value of the theoretical frameworks we discuss in class. I strive to equip my students with more than just information but a transformative perspective that will prepare them to navigate never-ending challenges. As they integrate theory and practice, they translate concepts into actionable strategies, leading to personal and collective success. By integrating family experiences into business discussions, students acknowledge that management is more than just a boardroom position; it is a way of life.
Which approach to educating students about academic integrity have you found to have the most impact?
When grounded in family narratives, our academic integrity discussions resonate deeply. There is a great deal of excitement among students when they see the overlap between values taught at home and the ethical principles laid out in business. A potent link is created when familial trust is compared with maintaining an organisation's reputation. This approach underscores that integrity is not compartmentalised but rather a universal code binding families, businesses, and society. In gaining this holistic perspective, students are better positioned to carry these values forward, leading to a culture of integrity beyond the classroom. I believe that the classroom is far more than a simple routine setting; it serves as a crucible for the development of students. Even though educators may not comprehensively understand how the world operates, each of us possesses a unique perspective. These perspectives have no absolute right or wrong; a range of interpretations can be considered. The students are exposed to the many versions of reality that coexist due to these interactions that extend beyond textbooks. As an educator, I view my role as facilitating these exchanges. As we weave personal stories into business concepts, students develop a deeper understanding of their values through such exchanges.