Experiential Learning at KJSIM: The Foundation of Management Education

Experiential learning is the process of learning by doing and reflecting on the experiences. If education is important for building knowledge, then experiential learning is important for application of the knowledge, thereby building required skills. MBA is a multi-disciplinary and rigorous program, where students learn a variety of subjects that are relevant to business and society. The purpose of MBA education is in developing students’ ability to integrate the knowledge acquired in various subjects and apply the same in solving complex challenges at the workplace. Experiential learning helps in bridging the gap between theory and practice and thus helps in the smooth transition from the classroom to the workplace.

At K J Somaiya Institute of Management, experiential learning is an integral part of the entire learning for two years. It starts immediately after the students are admitted and begin their journey with the induction program. The induction      program has a variety of engaging sessions and gives a glimpse of innovative pedagogies of management teaching. One such module is an ‘outbound activity’, where the students learn various management concepts and theories through management games, in a natural environment and live and understand the importance of collaborative learning, an essential 21st century skill. It is very gratifying to observe that students coming from every corner of India and from varied backgrounds get settled as one team and start looking out for each other by the end of this activity.     

The extent and depth of experiential learning has been beautifully woven into   the regular course curriculum and academic structure for the students. At KJSIM, experiential learning happens at two levels – academic and non-academic

Integration of experiential learning in academic deliverance is made in various ways such as inviting industry experts in the classroom, taking students for industry visit, enrolling them in live projects and concurrent projects, to name a few. Even the assignments given to the students are selected in such a way that the students will have to go to the field, collect the data and analyze the same. 

The introduction of the Capstone project is an innovation which will make a distinguished mark on the way the students are groomed. The students are expected to work very closely with the selected organizations for a longer duration to get a deeper insight of how the business is run and to find some solutions to their pressing problems. Locational advantage of Mumbai helps in networking with many industry experts who are enthusiastic to share their knowledge and experience with the students. Being a part of a Somaiya Vidyavihar University, KJSIM students have the advantage of working with other constituent institutes such as Somaiya Hospital, Research Innovation Incubation Design Labs (RiidL), & Bio Riidl  and Godavari Biorefineries. 

The non-academics part of experiential learning is equally engaging for the students. There are more than 20 students’ committees at KJSIM which are governed and run by students. They cover varied aspects of business school life such as placements, admissions, cultural fests, entrepreneurship events as well as intercollegiate events.  Students’ engagement starts right from designing the annual calendar by identifying the activities that will be organized to finally executing each activity in a professional manner. Being part of these committees and varied events provides an opportunity for students to work together, learn from each other, manage the events which includes managing finances, operations, as well as all the stakeholders – internal and external.  

It is observed that the young generation is conscious about social and environmental issues.      Young candidates who aspire to become management professionals are not only materialistically oriented, but they want to lead more fulfilling lives by contributing meaningfully to society. We have initiatives such as Enactus (social entrepreneurship cell) and Ankur ELI (Experiential Learning Initiative) where students with keen interest in social issues actively participate and effectively contribute to transform the lives of underprivileged persons. In the process they learn about society, get sensitized about the aspirations, grit, and perseverance of people at the bottom of the pyramid and challenges related to diversity and inclusion. This helps them build empathetic and conscientious leadership skills along with opportunities to solve problems innovatively.

The observed benefits due to experiential learning among the students are:

  • Application of Theoretical Concepts: It allows students to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios. By engaging in simulations, case studies, internships, or projects, students bridge the gap between theory and practice, gaining a deeper understanding of management concepts.
  • Skill Development: Experiential learning focuses on developing practical skills essential in management, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, decision-making, leadership, communication, and teamwork. Through practical experiences, students learn to apply these skills in a context similar to what they’ll encounter in their future careers.
  • Engagement and Motivation: Hands-on experiences create a more engaging and motivating learning environment. Students are actively involved in their learning, making it more meaningful and relevant. This active participation often leads to higher retention of knowledge.
  • Risk-Free Environment: Simulations and experiential learning activities provide a safe space for students to experiment, make decisions, and learn from both successes and failures without real-world consequences. This allows for a deeper understanding of the consequences of various managerial decisions.
  • Collaboration and Networking: Many experiential learning activities involve group work, encouraging collaboration and networking among students. This mirrors the teamwork necessary in the business world and helps students learn to work effectively in diverse teams.
  • Real-World Preparation: Experiential learning prepares students for the challenges they will face in the workforce. It exposes them to real managerial situations, enabling them to develop adaptability and problem-solving abilities before they enter the professional realm.
  • Reflection and Feedback: Reflective activities following experiential learning experiences are key. Students have the opportunity to evaluate their actions, decisions, and outcomes. This reflection, along with feedback from instructors or peers, helps in consolidating learning and improving future performance.

Experiential learning is the building block which opens up a world of opportunities for the students to unleash their potential. Students become aware about the uncertainties & confusions in the real world and get an opportunity to exhibit creativity and critical thinking ability to find workable solutions using robust theoretical concepts. 

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