Third time is the charm: Management Engineering Case Days

MSCI 100, a first year Management Engineering course taught by Professor Ken McKay, introduces students to the main concepts of the discipline in their first term. The course’s main goals are to introduce the core principles that students will apply throughout their undergraduate studies and to prepare them for their first co-operative education term.

The course was pedagogically redesigned based on including authentic self-directed learning, and providing students with opportunities to develop their professional skills (especially teamwork, project planning, time management and critical thinking). Professional Skills and Communication were taught within the context of the specific discipline as recommended in [1]. The overhauled course is composed of several activities/deliverables for students to experience multiple constructive failure-recovery cycles as a way to teach students the advantages of making mistakes [2].

In this blog post I will talk about the ‘case days’ experience, one of the cornerstones of the course that I helped plan and facilitate with the course’s teaching team. Three ‘case days’ were designed to provide an intense and deep learning experience regarding problem-solving, teamwork, and project management. On each case day, students, in teams, were given the case study at 8:30 am, their final product was due by 4:30 pm. There were no other courses, lectures, labs, or tutorials on these days. The requirements were vague, the problem was ill-defined, and the students were given ample opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them. Furthermore, not everything they needed to know had been taught in class and they had to teach themselves new material during these days. The students were expected to meet specific deadlines throughout the day and were given extensive rubrics. The student teams were assigned advisors (staff and faculty volunteers) who provided guidance throughout the day. The role of the advisors purposely diminished each case day. The teams eventually met requirements on their own, without any hand holding. Continue reading Third time is the charm: Management Engineering Case Days

The 360 Degrees Feedback- a way to excel in your Career- Samar Mohamed

In a previous CTE blog titled Musings on feedback, Gina Passante presented some thoughts about different kinds of feedback such as the feedback she provides to grad students, the feedback she receives on her research presentations and the feedback that students provide to instructors in the course evaluations. All these feedback formats are useful but they are all one directional and may lead to misinterpretation and defensiveness even with critisizm meant to be constructive .
Gina’s blog posting reminded me of a session that I enjoyed during the 2011 University of Waterloo Staff Conference. The title of the session was “Excel in your Career” and was facilitated by Liz Koblyk (Centre for Career Action) . During this session Liz talked about four main keys to excel in our careers which are: Emotional Intelligence, Feedback, Connectedness and Accountability.
While talking about feedback, Liz suggested that we better acquire feedback outside of the performance appraisal process and from a range of people. Liz proposed some interesting ideas that would make the feedback process among peers more fruitful, and she suggested that we:

  • Request feedback often.
  • Ask carefully about what to “start –stop –continue” doing.
  • Thank without defending.
  • Act on feedback.
  • Ask about our progress regarding the provided feedback [1].

Liz also highlighted some challenges for the feedback process such as:

  • If the work is good; there is no need for feedback.
  • Feedback may hurt and improvement may be tough to accomplish.

Liz talked briefly about an interesting method that merges both the recommendations of getting feedback and a solution to it’s challenges, which is the 3600 feedback method.

What is 360 degrees feedback?

The 360 degrees feedback method is a multi-rater technique that is used to gather and process anonymous feedback on individuals from different stakeholders such as peers, supervisors, other supervisors, partners, clients, and one’s self; and then feeding back the results to the recipients [1]. Typically, 3600 reviews are conducted by Human Resources departments for upper level staff, but anyone can conduct their own version of a 3600 feedback.

What are the stages of the 360 degrees feedback?

A typical 360 degrees process that would focus on self awareness and development involves different stages or questions to be answered:

1-   What is the purpose of the feedback process?
The two main reasons of performing this kind of feedback process are employee development and performance evaluation. In this blog my main focus is on employees’ development.

2-   What is the suggested tool to perform the feedback?
A typical tool consists of questionnaires that are filled out by different stakeholders (raters). For the purpose of this blog, I would point out that there are some free 360 degrees tools that are available online.

3-   Who are the stakeholders (raters)?
Typically the feedback recipient chooses approximately ten raters who are mainly: manager, other manager, self, subordinates, peers, partners, internal clients and external customers.

4-   Questionnaire distribution
I suggest that one inspects the available online tools and selects the tool that best fits one’s needs. He/she would send out the link of this questionnaire to the raters and assure them that the questionnaire is voluntarily and anonymous.

5-   Thanking the raters for their feedback.

What are the advantages of the 360 degrees feedback [1]:

1-   It can build more effective work relationships, increase one’s opportunity to evolve, reveal and resolve conflicts and show respect for raters’  opinions. This will function to  build better teams and detect barriers to success.
2-   The 3600 feedback data will be resonably valid since it comes from diverse sources.
3-   The recipient’s self awareness will increase by identifying and addressing one’s weaknesses and highlighting strengths that one can build upon. This is an important step in the career development process.
4-   The use of the 3600 feedback method allows peers/co-workers to praise or criticise their colleagues anonymously.

I really liked the idea of 3600 feedback and intend to adopt it in order to progress in my career. I also encourage people to learn more about the process and to try it out.


1-   Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There”, Hyperion; ISBN: 1401301304 ,2007

2-   Alma M. McCarthy and Thomas N. Garavan, “Understanding 3600 feedback”, Journal of European Industrial Training, 2001, pages 5-32.