Practising creativity to develop students in marketing

  • Tracy Harwood Institute of Creative Technologies, De Montfort University
  • Wen Ling Liu Hull University Business School


This paper presents the findings of a ‘client-based’ experiential learning innovation introduced into the curriculum of a postgraduate marketing and advertising programme at a UK higher education institution.  Based on interview data from current and former students, academic staff and industry participants (representing an evaluation of up to five years post-implementation), and this research sought to offer empirically generated understanding of student engagement with creative problem-solving.  Students worked in small groups to synthesize their prior learning of the subject in order to devise and competitively present an advertising campaign to a client firm.  Findings highlighted the important role of realism in the approach adopted that led to the development of creative skills and resilience among the cohort.  This paper concludes that whilst students place emphasis on skills that make them more flexible in the application of creative problem-solving, firms appear to value their fluency and ability to elaborate on their decision-making.  With the increasingly prominent feature of experience in contemporary business and marketing programmes today, this paper therefore contributes to an understanding of the process and value of such experiential project-based teaching and learning approaches.

Author Biographies

Tracy Harwood, Institute of Creative Technologies, De Montfort University

Dr Harwood is Professor of Digital Culture and HEA National Teacher Fellow.  Her research interests are in practice-based application of emergent technologies to consumer behaviourProfessor of Digital Culture 

Wen Ling Liu, Hull University Business School

Dr Liu is a Lecturer in Marketing. Her research interests lie in advertising, consumer behaviour, and online marketing communications.


Anderson, L. (2006). Building confidence in creativity: MBA students, Marketing Education Review, 16(1), 91-96.

Barr, T.F. and McNeilly, K.M. (2002). The value of students’ classroom experiences from the eyes of the recruiter: information, implications and recommendations for marketing educators, Journal of Marketing Education, 24(2), 168-173.

Biggs, J. (1996). Enhancing teaching through constructive alignment, Higher Education, 32, 347-364.

Calco, M. and Veeck, A. (2015). The markathon: Adapting the hackathon model for an introductory marketing class project, Marketing Education Review, 25(1), 33-38.

Clapham, M.M. (1997). Ideational skills training: A key element in creativity training programs, Creativity Research Journal, 10, 33–44.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention, New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

Darian, J.C. and Coopersmith, L. (2001). Integrated marketing and operations team projects: Learning the importance of cross-functional cooperation, Journal of Marketing Education, 23(2), 128-135.

Davis, G. (2004). Creativity is forever (5th ed.), Dubuque, IA: Kendall-Hunt.

DeAngelis, T. (2003). The dream canvas, Monitor on Psychology, 34(10), 44–46.

Eriksson, L.T. and Hauer, A.M. (2004). Mind map marketing: a creative approach in developing marketing skills, Journal of Marketing Education, 26(August), 174-187.

Garth, R. Y. (1999). Group‐Based Learning, New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 1999(80), 55-60.

Geertz, C.J. (1973). The interpretation of cultures: selected essays, Basic Books.

Gregory, R., & Thorley, L. (Eds.). (2013). Using group-based learning in higher education. Routledge.

Goodell, P.W. and Kraft, F.B. (1991). Issues on the use of ‘client’ projects in marketing education, Marketing Education Review, 1(4), 32-44.

Gordon, W.J.J. (1980). The new art of the possible: the basic course in synectics, Cambridge, MA: Porpoise Books.

Healy, W.J., Taran, Z. and Betts, S.C. (2011). Sales course design using experiential learning principles and Bloom’s taxonomy, Journal of Instructional Pedagogies, 6, 1-10.

Heywood, J. (2016). Experiential learning, interdisciplinarity, projects and teamwork, in the assessment of learning in engineering education: practice and policy, Wiley-IEEE Press.

Hibbert, P. and Cunliffe, A. (2013). Responsible management: engaging moral reflexive practice through threshold concepts, Journal of Business Ethics, 127:177-188.

Jaskari, H. and Jaskari, M.M. (2016). Critical success factors in teaching strategic sales management: evidence from client-based classroom and web-based formats, Marketing Education Review, 26(3), 171-185.

Jaskari, M.M. (2013). The challenge of assessing creative problem solving in client-based marketing development projects: A SOLO taxonomy approach, Journal of Marketing Education, 35(3), 231-244.

Johnson, D. W. and Johnson, R. T. (1987). Learning together and alone: Cooperative, competitive, and individualistic learning. Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Kirschner, F., Paas, F. and Kirschner, P. A. (2009). Individual and group-based learning from complex cognitive tasks: Effects on retention and transfer efficiency, Computers in Human Behavior, 25(2), 306-314.

Kolb, D.A. (1984). Experiential learning: experience as the source of learning and development, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Krippendorff, K. (1980). Content analysis: An introduction to its methodology, London, Sage.

Kubiatko, M. and I. Vaculová (2011). Project-based learning: Characteristic and the experiences with application in the science subjects, Energy Education Science and Technology Part B, 3(1), 65-74.

Littleton, K. and Häkkinen, P. (1999). Learning together: Understanding the process of computer based collaborative learning. In P. Dillenbourg (Ed.), Collaborative learning: Cognitive and computational approaches, Pergamon, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (1999), pp. 20-30.

Liu, Y. H., Lou, S. J., Shih, R. C., Meng, H. J., & Lee, C. P. (2010). A case study of online project-based learning: The beer king project, International Journal of Technology Teaching and Learning, 6(1), 43-57.

Lopez, T.B. and Lee, R.G. (2005). Five principles for workable client-based projects: Lessons from the trenches, Journal of Marketing Education, 27(2), 172-188.

McCord, M., Houseworth, M. and Michaelson, L.K. (2016). The integrative business experience: real choices and real consequences create real thinking, Decision Sciences Journal of Integrative Education, 13(3), 411-429.

McCorkle, D.E., Payan, J.M., Reardon, J. and Kling, N.D. (2007). Perceptions and reality: Creativity in the marketing classroom, Journal of Marketing Education, 29, 254–261.

McIntyre, F.S., Hite, R.E. and Rickard, M.K. (2003). Individual characteristics and creativity in the marketing classroom: exploratory insights, Journal of Marketing Education, 25(August), 143-149.

McIntyre, F.S., Hite, R.E. and Rickard, M.K. (2003). Individual characteristics and creativity in the marketing classroom: Exploratory insights, Journal of Marketing Education, 25, 143-149.

Mintzberg, H. (2004). Managers, not MBAs: A hard look at the soft practice of managing and management development, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco, CA.

Mintzberg, H. and Gosling, J. (2002). Educating managers beyond borders. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 1(1), 64-76.

Munoz, C. and Huser, A. (2008). Experiential and cooperative learning: using a situation analysis project in principles of marketing, The Journal of Education for Business, 83(4), 214-220.

Osborn, A.F. (1957). Applied imagination: Principles and procedures of creative problem solving, New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

Parsons, A. L., & Lepkowska-White, E. (2009). Group projects using clients versus not using clients: Do students perceive any differences?, Journal of Marketing Education, 31(2), 154-159.

Ramocki, S.P. (2014). Teaching creativity in the marketing curriculum, Marketing Education Review, 24(3), 183-196.

Razzouk, N.Y., Seitz, V. and Rizkallah, E. (2003). Learning by doing: using experiential projects in the undergraduate marketing strategy course, Marketing Education Review, 13(2), 35-41.

Salbu, S. (2002). Foreword. In Cruver, B. (Ed.), Anatomy of greed. The unshredded truth from an enron insider. Carroll & Graf, New York, NY.

Schlee, R.P. and Harich, K.R. (2014). Teaching creativity to business students: how well are we doing?, Journal of Education for Business, 89(3), 133-141.

Schon, D. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action, London: Temple Smith.

Soller, A.L. (2001). Supporting social interaction in an intelligent collaborative learning system, International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, 12, pp. 40-62.

Spackman, A. (2016). Client-based experiential learning and the librarian: Information literacy for the real world, Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, 21(3-4), 258-273.

Starkey, K., Hatchuel, A. and Tempest, S. (2004). Rethinking the business school, Journal of Management Studies, 41(8), 1521–1531.

Titus, P.A. (2007). Applied creativity: the creative marketing breakthrough model, Journal of Marketing Education, 29, 262-272.

Walters, R.C. and T. Sirotiak (2011). Assessing the effect of project based learning on leadership abilities and communication skills, The 47th ASC Annual International Conference, Associated Schools of Construction, Omaha, NE.

Weeks, W.A., Filion, M. and Luna, G. (1997). Enhancing sales skills and cultural awareness: an international competition approach, Marketing Education Review, 7(2), 67-79.

How to Cite
Harwood, T., & Liu, W. L. (2019). Practising creativity to develop students in marketing. Student Engagement in Higher Education Journal, 2(3), 54-76. Retrieved from