A communication perspective on critical pedagogy in professional and management education: A cross cultural look into self -serving constructions of everyday problematic events

Thomas J Yannuzzi, University of Pennsylvania


The new "ontological" work of professional and management education attempts to incorporate critical pedagogy to stimulate "critical self-reflection" by students to help stimulate more "mindful" interaction. Many graduate classrooms and professional seminars have significantly increased their use of experiential and discussion-oriented learning methods to accomplish these goals. The underlying assumption being that if students are encouraged to experience or recall problematic situations, they will use these "mindful moments" to consider other perspectives and, in turn, become more accepting of, comfortable with, and socially effective in diverse contexts. However, both my personal experience and academic literature suggest that participants construct reflections of problematic events in ways that present a positive construction of self and negative construction of problematic others and/or events. This study attempts to quantifiably identify the degree to which self-serving constructions influence professional and management students' critical self-reflections. It seems reasonable to suggest that if students maintain a strong self-serving bias in their constructions of self and others in everyday problematic events, then it would be helpful to determine if and how our pedagogy impacts this bias. Encouraging students to recognize and accept the possibility of multiple social constructions does not ensure that students actually allow others' point of views to be the accepted version when ultimately making sense of perceived "problematic" events. In fact, just the opposite could be true; the ability to recognize and analyze multiple perspectives may give students a false sense of self-criticality when ultimately defending their, own biased constructions of self and other. Strong tendencies of bias raise questions about how we teach "critical self-reflection" and to what degree we actually minimize self-serving constructions of everyday problematic events. The paper suggests that most professional and management education programs take an informational, social psychological approach to understanding problematic events. This approach makes it difficult for students to recognize the social constructionist nature of difference and perceived problematic interactions. Although, a few programs do incorporate methods more consistent with a communication or constructionist approach, they only report an increase in awareness of multiple constructions. The tendency for self-serving constructions to minimize openness to multiple perspectives has not been investigated. The paper concludes with a few questions about the current practice of critical pedagogy in professional and management education.

Subject Area

Adult education|Continuing education|Business education|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Yannuzzi, Thomas J, "A communication perspective on critical pedagogy in professional and management education: A cross cultural look into self -serving constructions of everyday problematic events" (2007). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3271839.