Presentation Details

The Fourth International Conference on Knowledge, Culture and Change in Organisations

Monitoring Change in the Empowered Classroom

Dr Penny Brunner, Dr. Melinda L. Costello.

Empowerment is not easy. It takes time, effort, and a lot of patience. For the past decade, international business has allocated considerable resources to establishing collaborative work teams and empowering employees to assume leadership roles. Responding to this changing work environment, many, if not most, management education programs include team projects or team cases in their courses of study. But, while students may increase their vocabulary about empowered work teams in these programs, the typical classroom structure or master/pupil tutoring relationship may do little to encourage the development of an empowered student or worker.
Empowerment--that shift from an external to an internal locus of control—was experienced firsthand by a group of undergraduate students in a restructured management classroom that handed the responsibility for learning over to the students. The study showed that initial responses were negative: Students blamed authority; threatened to withdraw; and refused to take responsibility for their actions. Since that first experiment, other changes designed to ease students' transition into an empowered setting have been implemented. A longer preparation session, more processing time, training in individual learning styles, instruction concerning locus of control and student reactions to assuming control have all contributed positively to classroom outcomes. Students develop greater feelings of personal power and self-awareness, and there are indications that an empowered classroom may be an appropriate training ground for future empowered team employees. With preparation, practice, and a protective environment, students might find the inner voice that provides personal guidance for years to come.


Dr Penny Brunner  (United States)
Associate Professor of Management
Department of Management and Accountancy Faculty of Management
University of North Carolina Asheville

Penelope W. Brunner is an associate professor inthe Department of Management and Accountancy at the University of North Carolina Asheville. She has an MBA and an EdD from the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Dr. Melinda L. Costello  (United States)

  • Empowerment
  • Student-centered learning

(Virtual Presentation, English)