La Trobe Business School

Tag: communication

Innovative Teaching is Rewarded

At La Trobe Business School, Teaching Awards and Teaching Support Staff Awards in our College reflect the extent to which our academics are able to make a real difference to student satisfaction and experience.  This year, there were five College Teaching Awards: LBS staff picked up three of the five awards in total.  In addition to the College Academic Staff Teaching Awards, the College also recognises the important role tutors and casual teaching support staff play in supporting academics to deliver a quality student experience. This year LBS staff picked up two of the four awards made.

Winners of the teaching awards were:

Peter Matheis (Entrepreneurship, Innovation & Marketing) for developing effective, engaging and innovative approaches to student learning and collaborative teaching initiatives in Marketing through blended flip-class room designs and resource curricula development

Esin Ozdil (Accounting and Data Analytics) for implementing diverse and timely formal and informal evaluation techniques that improve teaching and enhance students learning experience and engagement in different subject delivery modes

Seema Miglani and Biserka Siladi (Accounting and Data Analytics) for the development and delivery of a multi-campus, third year core subject using blended-learning technologies and resulting in improved levels of students’ satisfaction and understanding of real-word issues of auditing and assurance.

Winners for the Teacher Support Staff  category were:

Muhammad Saqib Manzoor (Economics & Finance) for the effective development of learning materials and co-developing assignments that engage and stimulate students as reflected by the high students satisfaction scores

Saedi Khosroshahi (Economics & Finance) for stimulating the students’ curiosity, encouraging critical thinking and promoting effective communication.


LBS alumni Kate Davenport at La Trobe University: “No working day is the same.”

LBS alumna Kate Davenport

La Trobe Business School alumni Kate Davenport recently started working as a Consultant in Leadership and Capability (Organisational Development) at La Trobe University’s Human Resources department in Bundoora.

After having graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor in Accounting for La Trobe Business School at La Trobe University’s Albury Wodonga campus, Kate went on to take part in La Trobe University’s Graduate Development Program. Through the program, graduates have the opportunity to work in three different departments of the university over twelve months, allowing them to develop a deep understanding of the operations of several teams and how these teams intersect working on different projects as well as developing transferable skills they can use throughout their careers.

Kate completed three rotations of four months, each time working in a different department of the university: one the marketing department, one in the College of Science, Health and Engineering, as well as one in the Tertiary Enabling Program, all based in Albury-Wodonga.

“Out of all rotations, I think I enjoyed the one in the Tertiary Enabling Program the most,” she says. “Through this program, I assisted students with their studies and the transition to University– either via email or face-to-face, assisted lecturers with their classes and provided input into the curriculum. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been able to watch the students grow and develop while participating in the program. I also learnt to communicate better, and understand the different kinds of communication that stakeholders require.”

Kate also mentions how she refined a lot of transferable skills throughout the graduation program: “During the program, I really developed a strong knowledge of the different areas and departments within the university. I also worked on a regional campus before coming to Bundoora. I believe that this was a big advantage, since it allows me to really bring a regional perspective to the table, and make sure the needs of staff in regional areas are taken into account. The program also gave me the opportunity to participate in development sessions and paired me with a mentor to further enable my professional development.”

Throughout her degree, Kate worked at an accounting firm at Albury-Wodonga, working in self-managed superannuation funds: “I really enjoyed the work, but it would sometimes start to feel monotonous,” she comments. “At La Trobe, I enjoy the variety of my current position. I work on a range of different projects and not a single day is the same, which is something I thoroughly enjoy.”

From uncertainty to the semi-structured interview


By Jason Murphy

Taking on a PhD while working full-time can be a rewarding experience. I get to delve into an area of intellectual enquiry in a really rigorous way, and in a fashion that I’d be unlikely to undertake during my spare time!

My post today shares my preliminary experiences with research interviews. I hope it will prove useful to others in the social sciences. I present this post with the caveat that I’m by no means an expert in this area, and that these insights are things that I’ve learned along the way.

Within the social sciences – my discipline – candidature often involves establishing your position, concerns and argument within the existing literature and defining your methodological approach. This is often done before attempting to collect your data.

For those who are studying part-time, this can be a considerable journey and one that almost risks the complete abstraction of your original question and motivation for embarking on your journey of enquiry.

In my own case, it’s been a truly humbling experience and one where, quite honestly, the more I “learned” (note those deliberate commas); the more I delved and enquired, the further I seemed to drift away from any kind of absolute clarity about what I was doing.

In other words, the more I learned the less I knew. With this came an acute sense of ambiguity within a boundless ocean of perspectives, enquiries, points of view, etc.

While the journey can be long, once you’ve reached an outline or semi-definite position from which to form your argument, you’ll need to gather your data.

You’ll be presented with the very real task of applying your foundational work to a tangible world of differing uncertainty– something that lives outside of your head: the world of others. Critically, your enquiry will need to be grounded and of some practical use to others, in an applied or theoretical sense.

My journey took me to the semi-structured interview and, with this, a considerable level of anxiety and self-doubt about its effectiveness as a method and my effectiveness as an interviewer!

I was very fortunate that my supervisors have a lot of experience in the area of interviewing and qualitative enquiry, and they were happy to share this expertise and guide me through a lot of my own self-doubt. A really critical point here was their recommendation to produce a pilot study. This involved taking every aspect of the interviewing process: the recruitment; the formal, ethical considerations; the interview itself; the transcription of data; and, finally, a draft analysis.

This process was extremely helpful because I could choose people with whom I was already acquainted, were part of a valid target group, and would be able to appreciate and support the pilot nature of the study at this point. It allowed me to be clearer about the formal processes (starting the participation information statement, acquiring signed consent and explaining the project), the technical requirements (using the audio equipment effectively and testing it in a number of environments), reflection and refinement of the interview questions, the process of transcribing an interview, and the analysis of the data itself.

If you’re about to start using interviews for the first time, I can’t recommend enough doing a pilot study. It really helps you to live through the experience and gain insights that you wouldn’t necessarily have considered. It will also give you an opportunity to reflect again on how well your questions are working.

Right now, at the point of writing this post, I’ve done over twenty interviews and I’m still learning new things every time! It’s a really complex process – there are whole shelves of libraries devoted to the issues!

Here are a few strategies that I think would help those getting started with research interviews:

  • Do as much of the technical/formal parts ahead of time (at least a day before), like sending on copies of the paperwork, testing your audio equipment, and recharging your extra set of batteries.
  • Send your participate a calendar invite to lock in your date and time. Send them a reminder the day before.
  • Bring along hard copies of the paperwork and the consent form.
  • You’re probably going to feel mildly to acutely nervous. Try your best to remain calm and remember that it’s not about you – it’s all about your participant. If you transfer this nervousness to your participant, it will be harder for them to relax into the interview and you will be less likely to gain deep insights.
  • Quickly form a rapport with your participant. Show an interest in them and find points of common experience early on, but make sure you get into the formal interview as quickly as you can.
  • Rather than taking notes during your interview, make lots of eye contact with your participant and listen to them as closely as possible. Listen for opportunities to ask follow up questions, or to probe their response more deeply. Sometimes, participants will begin making a statement and change the subject – this can be a great opportunity for an unplanned follow up question that delves deeper.
  • My interviews are semi-structured, and it has proven useful to be familiar with the questions, or themes, but not approach the interviews in a rigid way. Every participant is different, and being relaxed, and using cues to adjust the focus of the conversation is one way of keeping the conversation flowing and relaxed. Your participant is more likely to share deep themes if they are relaxed.

I tried to gather some field notes soon after the interview is complete. Sometimes, I use my iPhone to record these as spoken notes. Other times, I scribble down some bullet points if I’m pressed for time but, ultimately, I try to record in long form observations about the interview and how it went. I focus on the environment where the interview took place, the body language, and personal feelings and emotions around how well the discussion went. These notes will provide you with additional context around each discussion.

One of the significant parts of the interview process is the transcription itself. I was very surprised by how time-consuming this can be. I’m not a slow typist, but it can take me a whole day to transcribe a single, one-hour interview! While there is no better way to get close to your data, I’d recommend that you consider transcribing every second interview, and having the others professionally transcribed. It will free up time and energy to focus on recruitment and reflection on your data. My department had some funds available to support research-related expenses, which I was able to apply for after discussion with my supervisors. While you will still need to carefully check your transcriptions for accuracy, this takes 1–2 hours, instead of a whole day. This can also be a good opportunity to take further notes about key parts of your interviews.

Finally, the key thing that I’m discovering even as I write this post is that although I have put countless hours of preparation into positioning my study and delving into theories that surround my topic, research by its nature has an inescapable core: discovery.

I couldn’t help forming assumptions around what I’d find through my interviews, but these are the things you bring as a researcher to your field. Ultimately, you don’t know what you are going to find, and I’ve been finding that I have needed to correct myself and be open to learning the things that I didn’t know were there.

I believe that this open, adaptable approach is necessary with interviews, in order to be able to learn fully from your participants, and have a chance at seeing what it is they have been willing to share with you.

Jason Murphy works with the La Trobe University Graduate Research School (GRS) as a senior research communications advisor. He manages the GRS website, social media, and newsletters that reach out to graduate researchers. His professional goal is to help make La Trobe a great place to do research.

Jason is also a PhD candidate at La Trobe Business School. His multidisciplinary PhD research focuses on the work of marketing professionals and asks if this contributes to ideologies that reinforce and perpetuate social class. Situated in the field of marketing, the project draws from work in the fields of marketing, anthropology, and the broader social sciences. He tweets at @murphy_jason and you can connect with him via LinkedIn.

This piece was originally published on the Red Alert blog.

UniSuper’s WIL invaluable for financial planning students

UniSuper La Trobe Business School
One of the key strengths of the Financial Planning program offered by La Trobe Business School is the range of work integrated learning (WIL) experiences that students can participate in.

La Trobe’s Financial Planning program, led by Senior Lecturer Marc Olynyk, has developed strong relationships with the profession and leading industry practitioners. As well as teaching the theoretical knowledge required of a financial planning professional, students are also taught to apply this theory to real-life work issues.

Over the past four years, the annual UniSuper Financial Planning seminar has grown to become a key feature of La Trobe Business School’s Financial Planning program. UniSuper – one of Australia’s leading superannuation funds – hosted this year’s seminar on 25 September at their offices in Melbourne’s CBD.

Led by Mr Graham Eggins, Regional Manager Southern at UniSuper, and supported by various team members, the seminar provides students with the opportunity to experience financial planning in a real-life work environment. It also aims to develop their skills in communication and strategy development.

“UniSuper has been a great supporter of the financial planning program at La Trobe University over a number of years and has a strong commitment towards promoting the education experiences of our students,” said Mr Olynyk.

La Trobe Business School is one of the market leaders in financial planning education in Australia. The Financial Planning program places considerable emphasis on a range of work-based learning experiences, as well as providing work-ready skills to prepare students for entry into the rapidly expanding profession. The Financial Planning Major can be undertaken from within a number of undergraduate business courses on offer from La Trobe Business School.

Interested in enrolling in a Business Degree? See our Business courses page for more information. 

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