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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Kristen Jack
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Educational Leadership, Research, and Technology
Title: The Role of Experiential Learning in Nurturing Management Competencies in Hospitality and Tourism Management Students: Perceptions from Students, Faculty, and Industry Professionals
Dr. Louann Bierlein-Palmer, Chair
Dr. Jessaca Spybrook
Dr. Charles Baker-Clark
Date: Thursday, June 30, 2011 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Grand Rapids Beltline Campus, Room 3007
Previous research has revealed that industry professionals and educators in the field of Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) agree that classroom theory and experience in the field are essential components of undergraduate HTM education. Yet there is some disagreement on internship hour requirements and limited data on actual outcomes. This study, therefore, examines the perceptions of students and industry professionals as to the extent that HTM undergraduate students actually develop key management competencies while participating in experiential learning components. In addition, it captures the views of university faculty and hospitality industry professionals who work with these students regarding essential competencies and the most beneficial internship requirements.
The study includes the perceptions of 122 undergraduate HTM students attending one mid-sized university, 39 faculty members from various HTM programs at Midwest institutions, and 98 hospitality industry professionals. On-line surveys were used to capture data on five management competency categories conceptual/creative, leadership, interpersonal, admini-strative, and technical.
Data revealed general agreement between faculty and industry participants regarding the competencies students should attain prior to graduation. Skills identified as most important are in the technical competency category, followed by skills in the administrative, interpersonal, leadership and conceptual/creative categories. Specific top skills include communicating effectively both written and orally, maintaining professional and ethical standards, and managing guest problems.
In reference to actual competency attainment during internships, students generally reported the highest levels of attainment within the technical competency, followed by conceptual/creative, interpersonal, leadership, and administrative. Although two of the individual skills attained were in the list of most desired (i.e., maintaining professional and ethical standards, and managing guest problems), the top competency categories were different when comparing skills students should have and skills students actually attain.
The overall indication is that students attain fairly high levels of skill attainment and increased confidence in their abilities upon completion of internship experiences. Faculty and industry leaders also agreed that the best internship placements involve paying students for their work, treating them the same as other employees, and offering training and professional development opportunities. Finally, increasing the amount of required internship hours should be a priority in undergraduate HTM programs.