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Author ORCID Identifier


Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Mark A. McDonald

Subject Categories

Educational Methods


The Classroom-as-Organization (CAO) approach involves creating and running an organization as part of class activities. Students act as managers that have control and responsibility over the organization created in the course. While scholars have recognized the value of this educational approach, we need a better understanding of the students’ experience in such a class. We took a multi-study approach to address this gap.

In study 1 we took the perspective of psychological ownership theory and tested the hypothesis that student psychological ownership toward the organization of the class grows over time. We also used qualitative analysis of repeated waves of interviews to explore student experiences during the evolution of a CAO. We found that students developed psychological ownership for the organization relatively quickly, with different antecedents to psychological ownership working together at different points in the development of the project. We also found that full control of the organization was not needed or desired by students to develop their feelings of ownership.

In study 2, we used the theory and methodology of network analysis to explore student peer interaction and the position of the instructor in a CAO compared to two other management classes that used group work. Our results show that the CAO is not just another class that uses group work, but it is an entirely different experience than those offered by typical management classes. The CAO involves students in a much denser network of interactions with peers, with the instructor presenting a much smaller centrality in the class.

In study 3, we used social status theory, homophily theory, and friendship formation literature to build hypotheses about the underlying patterns that characterize the formation and evolution of a CAO network. We used SIENA (Simulation Investigation for Empirical Network Analysis) to test these hypotheses. Results show that some students tend to be preferred advisors in the CAO network, but a tendency toward collaboration is also an essential factor driving student interactions. Furthermore, student interactions inside the class have a significant impact on social interactions outside of the class.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.