David Garvin, C. Roland Christensen Professor of Business Administration, utilizes guest speakers in General Management: Processes and Action in order to promote deeper understanding of managerial and organizational realities. He has experimented with and refined three approaches—Q&A with a case study protagonist, themed presentations and small group conversations with executives, and open-ended conversations with a guest lecturer (often an alum) about their career.
The benefits: Carefully selected, well-prepared guests provide depth and granularity. For many students, discussion with the actual decision-maker or case protagonist gives a truer sense of their authenticity: “We describe them on paper, now you get to see them in real life, interacting with others, and facing hard questions. Often a guest will share something in class that they would not commit to in writing.” Read more about From the source: Guest speakers in the classroom
HarvardX faculty utilize guest speakers in online courses for similar pedagogical purposes, including Bioethics: The Law, Medicine, and Ethics of Reproductive Technologies and Genetics (I. Glenn Cohen, HLS).
A pilot study explored how guest speakers increase student engagement, particularly when designed as active learning experiences where students participate at each step of the process—guest preparation, interviewing, and reflection.