Prepare My Own MBA Personal Learning Guide

What is an MBA Personal Learning Guide?  How can it help differentiate me from my classmates and coworkers?

Your Personal Learning Guide helps you, your employer and even your MBA team members get the most from their program investment.  The goal is to apply what you have learned in your MBA program to your career situations.  The Personal Learning Guide concept is the work of Dr. Robert O. Brinkerhoff, an expert in learning effectiveness and author of The Learning Alliance.  I adapted the concept and created a tool for MBA students, primarily for Executive MBA, part time MBA, and online MBA students.

The Personal Learning Guide helps organize information about your program, your goals, and it helps prepare you for the meetings with your immediate supervisor, coworkers, direct reports, and MBA team members (subjects of future posts).  The guide has two parts: one is for use before day one of the MBA program, and the other is for use throughout the program.

Part One of the Personal Learning Guide focuses on your company’s change goals, challenges, solution strategies, and your personal goals.  You start with a series of questions that relate to your company:

  1. My company is undergoing changes in response to economic, market, and technological forces.  What are the critical change goals for my company?
  2. What particular challenges, barriers, or issues will my company need to resolve in order to achieve these change goals?  List as many as you want; however, prioritize them so you can focus on the top three or four.
  3. At this point, what solution strategies, if any, is the leadership of my company planning to address concerning these issues?
  4. What is my role and my work group’s role in helping my company implement these strategies?

Part Two of the Personal Learning Guide focuses on your MBA program’s course content and helping you capture what you learn during your MBA program and then places it in the context of your company’s goals, challenges, solution strategies, and your personal goals.  You identify what you learned during an instructional period or activity by answering a series of questions.  You define the instructional period or activity.  One approach for part time MBA students is to use weekly class meetings for a given course.  For Executive MBA students, it could be a class weekend.  The important thing is to reflect and link the learning to the company’s goals, challenges, solution strategies, and your personal goals.  My experience is that most of us do not take the time to reflect on what we learn from professional development activities.  Questions for Part 2 include:

  1. Based on what I learned, to what extent are my company’s goals still complete and valid?
  2. Based on what I learned, how would I modify or amend the critical challenges/issues faced by my company?
  3. Based on the above, what specific actions do you suggest for:
    1. My immediate supervisor or other company leaders?
    2. Myself?
    3. My coworkers and work group?
  4. Reflecting on your goals for the MBA program, do you have any insights, issues, or conclusions to capture?

Please start your program attendance process by meeting with your immediate supervisor, and completing the brief pre-attendance assignment on the next page.  After you review the program agenda, complete the second pre-attendance worksheet.  Then, bring your guide with you to each class meeting

Personal Learning Guide Download – Click here to download a Word file from the MyeEMBA web site that you can edit.

MyeEMBA Personal Learning Guide – Click here to download a Word file from this blog entry that you can edit.

MyeEMBA Personal Learning Guide – Click here to download a PDF file from this blog entry.

My Personal Learning Guide is tool for reflection, capturing what you learn, and linking what you learn to those things that are important to your career well-being.  Do you agree?  How would you modify the tool to make it more appropriate for you and your circumstance?  Is the tool useful?  Please share your thoughts regarding MBA career well-being in comments below.

In my next post, I will help you prepare for your meeting with your immediate supervisor.


Rodney G. Alsup, D.B.A., CPA, CITP
Founder of

1 comment for “Prepare My Own MBA Personal Learning Guide

  1. June 28, 2010 at 8:07 am

    Speaking from experience, I can attest to the effectiveness of this process. It reminded me of my second master’s degree program (an M.Div. in this case). On the first day, we were asked to create our learning objectives as part of the program. It actually took about 6 months to develop objectives that passed the scrutiny of the faculty advisor as well as my peers. Yes, they were scrutinized. Developing and updating the objectives became just part of the process. My personal peer group was made of three or four fellow students and I found them invaluable. In contrast, my MBA program (20 years earlier) asked nothing of the sort and the quality of the experience and learning paled in comparison.

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