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New Innovations Are Revamping the Tuck MBA

Luke Anthony Peña

Leadership, a global mindset and community inclusivity. Four years ago, the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College identified these three concepts as principal tenants that would drive new innovations of its MBA program spearheaded by Associate Dean Praveen Kopalle.

The tenants were identified by a task force and were based on student surveys and a study conducted by the Parthenon Group. The result of Tuck’s initiative is a series of six innovations designed to enhance the MBA program and student experience, outlined in a recent article by Tuck Senior Writer Kirk Kardashian entitled “Innovate to Educate.” In the piece that follows, we’ve summarized those six innovations.

Redefining Personal Leadership

Based on a suggestion from Tuck ‘16 alum and former student board member Danielle Garver, Kopalle developed a “micro-course that begins with a four-hour workshop from celebrated author and business leader Marshall Goldsmith.”

Kardashian writes,

“During the session, Goldsmith, a frequent presence in Tuck Executive Education programs, gives students a framework for personal development, weaving in stories from his own life and coaching career at the same time. The framework is essentially a habit: recognizing what personal behavior you want to change, and then working with a partner to give and receive feedback on progress towards that change.”

In addition to the Goldsmith session, Tuck’s Personal Leadership Initiative also features an algorithm that matches students with potential feedback partners, as well as an online platform that students can use to track behavioral changes and partner feedback. “It’s a great example of mass customization on the personal level,” Kopalle told Kardashian. “It’s scalable and personal, which is a rare combination.”

World Perspective With the Deanery Fellows Program

The relatively new Deanery Fellows Program puts 10 Tuck students into partnership with the Tuck Student Board and the school’s Deanery in a collaborative effort to boost inclusivity and global connectivity.

One Deanery fellow with an interest in community examined student feedback and identified three potential intervention points, the article reports: “The first 100 days at Tuck are influential for setting the cultural tone of the two-year experience; some students are more inclined than others to plan activities and engage in leadership roles; and community values play an active role in setting norms for student behavior, communication and leadership.”

The results of this program to date include a new core class focusing on global business, technological additions to classrooms to enhance student participation and new innovations to the career search process for Tuck MBA students.

Enhancing Classroom Participation

Some of the most valuable parts of the MBA learning process happen during classroom discussions, but tracking the quality and quantity of each student’s participation isn’t easy. As part of the Classroom Scribes Initiative, Tuck partners and professionals from the Upper Valley Career Center sit in on courses and track participation patterns—for example, whether students in certain areas of the classroom were called on more frequently.

Tuck Faculty Director and Professor of Business Administration Joseph Hall commented on the value of this addition, saying as part of the Tuck article, “It’s a wonderful thing having someone there to document what has happened, who said what—it really allows me to focus on my teaching. The reality is there’s probably a certain amount of unconscious bias that gets introduced. I think the scribes are perceived as a positive all the way around.”

Connecting Over Lunch

As anyone who’s had a great networking experience over lunch can attest, the opportunity for students to share a meal with their instructors can launch connections and interpersonal relationships more effectively than any classroom exercise.

Vijay Govindarajan, professor of management, teaches the popular elective “Implementing Strategy,” which has two sections of 60 to 80 students each. He usually holds his faculty-student lunches immediately after class, which gives him and the students a chance to discuss issues from the day’s class in more of a seminar style. The lunch meetings are capped at 10 students, so over the course of the term Govindarajan can dine with everyone in his class. “I really believe that’s the strength of Tuck that students can have that kind of relationship with the faculty,” he told Kardashian.

Fostering Faculty Collaboration

First held in fall 2015, the Tuck Teaching Colloquia brings faculty members together to identify new opportunities to enhance the school’s MBA program. Over the three previous colloquia sessions that have occurred since this initiative began, the Tuck faculty has crafted an interdisciplinary second-year elective, developed more global content for the MBA curriculum and created a taskforce to improve the student experience.

“I presented these MBA innovations on Friends and Family Day in June,” Kopalle said about the Colloquia as part of the Tuck news article. “And to prospective students in China, and both groups were excited to see how Tuck is at the cutting edge of these three areas.”

Enhancing Global Understanding

The Tuck Class of 2017 was the first whose students were required to complete at least one global business experience, in an administrative effort to strengthen its MBA graduates’ understanding of global business practices.

In order to meet the TuckGO requirement, students must take part in one of four programs: a Global Insight Expedition (GIX), a qualifying First-Year Project, an OnSite Global Consulting project or an international exchange with one of Tuck’s partner institutions. Last year, 330 students visited 32 countries in pursuit of real-world international business experience and cultural understanding.

Last year’s Vietnam GIX was led by Curt Welling, a senior fellow at the Center for Business, Government & Society, along with Dartmouth history professor and Vietnam expert Ed Miller. Reflecting on the goals of this experience for the Tuck article, Welling said, “One of the premises here is we’re going to put all of our assumptions about the way things should work, that are based on our cultural perspective, off to the side. And we’re going to look with fresh eyes that aren’t culturally influenced.”

Read more about Tuck’s efforts to bring innovation to the MBA program here.

Posted in: MBA News, News

Schools: Dartmouth / Tuck

About the Author


Matthew Korman

Matthew Korman is a contributing author and editor for Clear Admit. Since graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism and political science, Matthew has worked with numerous academic institutions, in addition to roles as a music industry writer, promoter, and data analyst. His works have appeared in publications such as NPR and Sports Illustrated.

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