Interview with Lance Frazier at Creighton
Professor Lance Frazier teaches management at the Heider College of Business at Creighton University. Professor Frazier believes that his industry experiences enable him to “present concepts from a theoretical perspective and then apply those concepts using ‘real-world’ examples.”
On his experiences:
I liked the idea of Yellowdig and I had piloted it a bit in the Fall, so I thought it would be something that would allow me to have the students think about the content of the course, outside of the course. It was an experiment to see how it would go. I made it a part of the grade. It wasn’t a huge part of the grade, but it was enough that I hoped it would incentivize them to be engaged with the board. The responses I got were mixed. A lot of people really got into it. And I would say that half the people in the class really enjoyed it, right off the bat, and really engaged and went out and searched for articles.
The class is about Organizational Behavior so it’s about job performance, motivation, leadership and stress and things like that. So, what I required them to do was to go find an article or video, share it with us and specifically link it back to class content. They had to tie it back to job performance or motivation or organizational commitment, so they had to specifically mention what it was we talked about in class and then highlight the article. It did require them to go out and think about the topics outside the classroom.
Like I said, half of them got really into it and they started doing it immediately. The other half were kind of the late adopters [and] didn’t engage right away so that was a bit of a challenge that I had. But with the people who did engage right away, they liked it. Overall, the response was mixed, but I was really pleased with it once people did engage-- with some of the content that they shared, some interesting stuff that I hadn’t seen, and some of the interactions they had as comments with the posts.
On the Yellowdig point system:
I actually built it into my grading scale. I think I set it at 75 because it was an experiment, I was going to go with a relatively low number, just to not put too much pressure on [the students] right away. They had to earn 75 Yellowdig points to get the full participation points. I wanted them to earn at least 30 of those points by posting new pins and at least 25 points through responding to other people’s pins. And then the other 20 additional points would be earned through other people liking your posts and your pins. That kind of didn’t work the way I wanted it to so I broke it down and said just earn 75 [points].
On students using Yellowdig:
For the most part, the ones that really dove into Yellowdig are also the ones that dive into the class in general. So the really conscientious students that like to do the right things, they are the ones that come to class everyday and participate in class and they’re the ones that jumped onto Yellowdig too. I did find that I got some really good stuff [on Yellowdig] from some of the more introverted students. And I would get a lot more in-depth comments from them on Yellowdig than I do in class. I try, in the classroom, to be very inclusive but I did find that I could get more out of [the introverts] at Yellowdig than I could in class. The breakdown between who participated and who didn’t, was really more along the lines of-- the conscientious, overachieving students were the ones that jumped right in and the ones that were not as conscientious, they were the ones that didn’t jump in until the very end. I didn’t see a lot of difference between the introverts and extroverts. The people who really engaged were the better students.
Did you notice that maybe students that tended to be friends with each other participated together or commented on each other’s posts more? So, maybe all the conscientious students came in as a group and participated?
I didn’t see that as much. Even just going through [Yellowdig] right now, a lot of the responses I am seeing for different posts--sometimes they are the people that they hung out with and sat with in class but it does seem to be pretty well distributed. So, it doesn’t seem to be that groups of people went in together and responded to each other’s posts. So that distribution didn’t seem to break out in my class-- a little bit that was the case, but I think for the most part people just responded to the [posts] they found really interesting and that might have been across students who may not normally interact in the class or sit next to each other or be in the same friend circles.
I think [Yellowdig] allows them to interact with people whom they might not usually interact with. My classes at Creighton are really small, it’s a really small campus, so most everyone is aware of who other people are, but that’s not always the case. And so, I think [Yellowdig] does open up that communication.
On the unexpected benefits of Yellowdig:
Another thing I found students do, which I think was an unexpected benefit, was I would find them bringing up an article that they read on Yellowdig in class. And so they would say: “I remember that article that Bethany posted about personality that relates to this topic too.” I did find that some of the dialogue that we had on Yellowdig enabled us to bring topics to the class and expand on them in ways we might not normally have done.
On debates and discussions in class stemming from Yellowdig posts:
One of the things we got to talk about in my class is-- we talk about emotions at work very early on and we were talking about gender differences and I’d read an article about emotions at work and the appropriateness of crying. And, of course, in this article, it was all women CEO’s that they were talking to and about-- whether it’s appropriate to cry if you feel an emotion then where do you cry? So some of it was the gender role part of it. It was interesting that there were no CEO men talking about the appropriateness of crying. So we talked a little bit about gender roles and gender expectations. But the crying at work came up several times, interestingly, throughout the class, even when we moved on beyond emotions. Somebody would find another article about crying at work.
And then I posted something from the Onion that’s obviously satirical. I thought it was funny, based on our conversation. One of the things that got a lot of traction was people posting about the appropriateness of crying at work. It came up several times throughout the class. I think it started an interesting dialogue that [the students] hadn’t thought about. I think most of us think about the workplace as being a place where you’re supposed to be stoic and professional and there is no place for crying. And my stance on that is that, personally, because I am a cryer in general, I think it’s okay at times to show emotions and it’s not necessarily a bad thing that you cry. You don’t want to be the cryer but I don’t think that it is inappropriate. How do you deal with big emotions?
One of the things that I talk a lot about in class is: What’s the appropriate response? Well, it depends. It’s true. It’s going to vary every time on how you respond to someone emotionally, how you motivate somebody, there are so many factors that play a role. The great leaders make [us] feel safe to make mistakes, but also recognize the emotions that people are feeling and respond to that. That’s when you figure out what kind of place you work at, is when something bad happens and what kind of support that you get and how they treat you after that.
On using Yellowdig in the future:
I think in the Fall, I’m going to use it for my online MBA class. I can imagine MBA students engaging with each other and more dialogue, rather than doing it just to earn the points
This is a good way of bringing [technology] into the classroom but also using what [the students] know as a way to get them to think beyond the classroom. I think Yellowdig does a great job of that. In my classroom, what I’ve found-- in my class itself, I do not allow them to bring in their laptops at all. During class, they have to take notes by hand. They can’t have the laptops open. I just think that they learn better when they write it. When I ban the laptops, they see me as this guy who has a problem with technology. So, bringing Yellowdig in and saying, “This is a cool technology platform that we’re going to use,” shows them I’m up to speed. Like you said, there are lots of ways to learn.