Illuminating effects of experiential learning

Illuminating effects of experiential learning

By immersing her students in social enterprise, Dr Yit Sean Esther Chong is on a mission to empower the next generation of leaders with empathy, diversity and resilience.

Dr Yit Sean Esther Chong is the first to admit that management studies can sometimes be a bit “dry and abstract”.

But the Senior Lecturer at the School of Business in Malaysia has discovered a creative way to teach students about the importance of an ethical and inclusive workplace.

Inspired by her experience as a volunteer reader for the visually impaired, Dr Chong has developed a new curriculum to improve engagement, motivation, and outcomes for her students.

Collaborating with Dialogue in the Dark, a social enterprise for the visually impaired, Dr Chong’s students take part in leadership workshops conducted in total darkness, led by visually impaired facilitators.

Dr Chong says these experiential learning activities offer a unique experience that mirrors the uncertain reality of management.

“Through a myriad of team activities, the students discovered a new world of senses, which heightened their sensitivity towards empathetic listening,” she says.

This, in addition to other innovative strategies, has earned Dr Chong a Monash Business School 2021 Dean's Award for Innovation in Learning and Teaching.

"Through a myriad of team activities, the students discovered a new world of senses."

“This award is very meaningful to me, as it marks the 10th year of my service in Monash University Malaysia, and affirms the value of my contribution to the Faculty of Business and Economics” she says.

Dr Chong credits her success to her parents.

“My late father, who was a management graduate from Nanyang University Singapore in the 1960s, taught me benevolence and self-defined excellence,” she says.

“My mother, a retired midwife who used to manage her own maternity clinic, taught me resilience and persistence in pursuing my career while caring for the family's needs.

“These qualities have been fundamental in managing a diverse team of tutors and balancing priorities in serving the best interests of the students.”

Dr Chong says the transformative power of education can “pave the way for an equitable, inclusive and responsible workplace”.

“As undergraduates are at the critical juncture of transition from 'university-to-workplace/marketplace', the university is an important avenue for building capabilities and a value system that will support a sustainable future for all,” she says.

Dr Chong says she hoped to continue using her sphere of influence to contribute to a better world where people with disabilities can achieve their full potential.