Workplace Simulation - ‘The Board Room’

Workplace simulation - ‘The Board Room’

Students learn to discuss opposing views and debate

The Subject is:

MGT230: Ethics, Sustainability and Culture (Nicole Mitchell, Lecturer and Educational Designer). This subject covers ethical theories and ethical issues in business as well as topics that are relevant to current issues such as globalisation, capitalism, and the environment. We also look at how students, as future business professionals, can effect change by applying critical thinking.

The students will learn:

For the topic of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), the students need to develop and apply an understanding of the two different theoretical approaches to CSR; the narrow vs the broad view, including the strengths and weaknesses of each approach.

This is what it looks like (active learning):

Set up of the Learning Environment: I set the room up like a Board Room – with tables in a square shape, and an image of the ‘Coles’ logo and a boardroom was projected on the main screen Projection.


Students came into the class at 9am and sat down. I presented a recap of the two different view of CSR to them (this was also covered in the lecture the week prior) and that we were now to apply it. Scenario: You are all on the Board at Coles and the purpose today is to decide on which view of CSR Coles should adopt. I split the class into two groups and allocated Narrow view/Broad view. Students then relocated into their groups and had 10 minutes to research and discuss their main points. We came back into the room and I ‘opened’ the meeting and facilitated the meeting, each student had a turn to present and counter the opposing argument. At the same time I noted each point on the whiteboard under the relevant category. At the end of the meeting, we recapped by discussing the main points presented on the whiteboard. I took a photo of our notes on the whiteboard (using the OfficeLens APP) and posted it on the MGT230 Interact2 site.
NB the Let’s eat grandma in blue relates to the importance of grammar discussion we had after the activity!

The effect of learning this way:

  • The students worked collaboratively to identify and develop their key arguments to support their ‘view’, including the strengths and weaknesses.
  • Through the board meeting/discussion, students developed their public speaking and listening skills. Students experienced a semi-professional environment of the Board Room.
  • Students had to develop and use their reasoning and persuasion skills to ‘convince’ the other side that their view had more validity.
  • Students’ learning was activated through group discussion and problem-solving, the theory was brought to life and contextualised within a professional scenario (rather than just reading about it).

How can this be applied to other classes/student cohort?

The Board Room could be easily simulated in an online meeting e.g. using breakout rooms for the two teams, then bringing them together to discuss and argue. The Board Room scenario can also be applied to other subjects to simulate workplace activity where students are presented with two opposing views to ‘argue’ e.g. whether the business should adopt a certain strategy/product/new comms strategy/HRM policy etc. This approach will require students to learn about the theory (as it is used to ‘defend’ their case) as well as develop important professional practice skills in terms of leading/participating in high level discussions in a group/team environment.

Classroom Setup