Case Study 9: The Mall Walk: Making deep connections between theory and the students' lives
A Case Study from the University sector. Part of the Enhancing the Effectiveness of Tertiary Teaching and Learning through Assessment project.
The University Sector
- Name: Mary FitzPatrick
- Organisation: The University of Waikato
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Researcher: Jill Musgrave
'Theory, at the end of the day, is only an articulation of patterns of our experience. What students hear in the lecture theatre is not a rule; it's a pattern, and human beings live it variably. Because the assessment is based on personal experience, the hope is that it will be more meaningful. Students make personal sense of theory by understanding how that particular theory works in their particular lives [and in this way] students make deeper connections. It's all too easy for us to lecture theory without making those connections.'
A university lecturer developed an assessment activity called The Mall Walk for her third year, special topic paper, Retail Management, to ensure that students 'recognise theory in real life'.
The activity requires students to visit two local shopping malls and complete observation tasks evaluating aspects of the mall environment and their own behaviour in that environment. They then choose the five aspects that had the biggest impact on their own experience and discuss those aspects from a theoretical perspective using concepts and principles from the course. Finally, they formulate recommendations for the retailer.
Overall Mary feels that the students enjoy the activity. 'I think they found it hard work but at the same time still enjoyable.'