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Contextualizing Learning: Becoming A Tourism and Hospitality Professional

Gayle Jennings


Over three years, a final semester, undergraduate project-based tourism and hospitality course was successively refined using action research processes. The course required students to integrate and put into practice learnings from all courses. Each offering of the course required students to develop, implement and evaluate a tourism and hospitality project specifically related to their interests. The majority of students developed projects in conjunction with industry partners, a few with hypothetical industry partners, and several with themselves as entrepreneurs. Initially, role-play was variously used to engage students in experiential profession-based learning. By the third year of offering, role-play was replaced by simulation. Students became a community of practice, wherein each week’s face-to-face contact involved a focused round-table departmental meeting. During meetings, there was a strong emphasis on intrapersonal, interpersonal and oral communication skill development. Project assessment involved 5-minute pitches, a written proposal, ethics “test”, an oral presentation and a written report. Students were required to self-evaluate all assessment tasks. In addition, students anonymously voted and provided written feedback on the best project pitch, as well as written feedback on all oral presentations. Student involvement in self and peer assessment aided personal reflection and constructive feedback with respect to professional practice. 

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