One of the things I find the most interesting about this MBA course is the amount of group work that is involved. When I was in university doing my undergraduate degree at the University of Bath, we had a lot of group work but it wasn’t this much. I initially thought this was unique to the Lagos Business School but I started another course recently that has a lot of group work. This could either be a coincidence or it is a sign that methods of learning in Nigeria are evolving. In the past, it used to be very individualistic. This was especially true in primary school. Every student was ranked and there wasn’t any group work. It was all about being the best in class. There are obviously pros and cons to every style of learning, but I have to admit, I like this new style. Working in groups encourages more participation from all members of the class, fewer people are left behind, and if you are able to explain a concept to a fellow student, you learn even more.
Group learning and emphasis on class participation are both important for the EMBA course. This is not to say there aren’t any exams or individualistic elements. At the end of the day, we all have to pass our exams. But I do not feel like I am competing against my classmates. It is more about passing to prove that I understood what I learned. This is a very good step in the right direction. I wrote in a previous blog about a friend who took the last position in his class in primary school and his twin got 1st. Imagine how traumatizing that was for him, especially because these scores were announced in front of the whole class!
Most of the group work is centered around preparing for upcoming classes. We have done so many case studies this semester, that it is hard to count. In addition, we worked on group assignments which were great learning experiences. It is worth noting here a major problem with this method of learning. Some people in the group could end up becoming freeloaders. By that I mean, that some people do not contribute to assignments and only show up when it is time to present the work. Luckily there haven’t been any freeloaders on this EMBA course, but I have experienced it a few times in the past. What also happens is that a leader has to be identified as early as possible to ensure tasks are completed on time. Usually, I end up being the de facto leader because most people do not want that responsibility.
All in all, I do enjoy working in groups. It helps you to form deeper bonds with fellow classmates, it has helped me to accept my role as a leader, and it improves the learning experience. I do hope that this learning method is embraced in schools all over Africa. Sometimes it isn’t about being the best in class. It helps if you carry others along with you.