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Abstract

Engaged students are committed and more likely to continue their university studies. This paper details an experiential first-year practical skills course designed for students pursuing Bachelor's degrees in Agribusiness Management and General Agriculture. The programme enables students to develop real products and services to sell on an organized sales day and food preparation event. In the course, students participate as producers, consumers and agri-business entrepreneurs using a supply chain approach - allowing them to understand the linkages from production to consumption. The current paper explores the effectiveness of this experiential assessment in terms of its ability to engage students. Semi-structured questionnaires were used to assess students' engagement for 203 students during 2011-2012. Comparing student engagement to a traditional lecture course, the results suggest that the use of events such as the sales day and food preparation exercise is capable of engaging students. The results of the assessment suggested that more active learning and collaboration, through more academically challenging activities, permits more student-faculty interaction than a traditional lecture-based course. The course structure outlined in this paper permits the dynamics of a live marketing environment, which can be introduced into the classroom to permit higher quality learning. Practical advice for educators seeking to design and implement engaging pedagogy is also provided.

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