Former Clearinghouse Customers Speak!

By — on / Daily, Negotiation Skills, Pedagogy at PON

In an effort to understand more about how the former PON Clearinghouse does and doesn’t meet its customers’ needs, we interviewed a number of long-time Clearinghouse clients. We asked what teaching materials they found most valuable and for what reasons. We also asked how they found out about the former Clearinghouse and what additional teaching and training resources they would like to see us develop.

Most customers used role play simulations, videos and case studies to teach basic interest-based negotiation workshops or semester-long courses. Most have attended PON workshops in the past.

All interviewees acknowledged the value of experiential learning as a supplement to more traditional lectures. Charles Field commented that at the University of Maryland, George Washington University, and other universities where he teaches, role play simulations are not regularly used in the classroom. His students, therefore, are always appreciative of the skill-based, show-don’t-tell element of his negotiation courses.  Matthew Saviello from Dover Corporation said, “The materials are fantastic. It is marvelous the way they are written and the how the process can play out in so many different ways.”

Dawn Effron, adjunct professor at New England Law Boston, spoke about the strength of an exercise like Sally Soprano: “It is an excellent vehicle for introducing the seven element framework. The exercise is wonderfully open-ended in its opportunities for value creation and it brings theory to life in an entertaining way.” She also noted that because the subject matter is outside of what is familiar, it gets students out of their comfort zones and allows them to focus on skill building instead of content.

Charles Field appreciated the diversity of materials available in the former Clearinghouse that appeal to a wide range of students. He said: “I have students who study public policy, city planning, real estate, and you have cases that cover the full range. I use the same cases because I have gotten used to the points I like to make, and I think the cases are well thought through and provide ample substance for students to grapple with various aspects of negotiation.” He also incorporates PON cases into the sequence of materials for both his basic and advanced courses. He said, “An area I get into are individuals understanding themselves as negotiators and identifying what drives their behavior and conflict style.” He particularly appreciates cases like Oil Pricing that helps sensitize students to what their communication habits are and what they want to work on.

James Lawrence of Ohio State University acknowledged videos as being helpful teaching supplements. In particular, the World Trade Center multi-party negotiation video enriches discussion by providing students with an understanding of the many ways situations can play out. Some customers wanted more multi-party cases that are tailored to specific contexts, such as labor negotiations, international contexts and business negotiations with a particular focus on buying and selling.

Appreciation for the former Clearinghouse’s accessible layout and detailed material summaries were noted by many interviewees. In particular, James Lawrence said, “I am a strong believer in the value of the teaching note, so strong a believer that I don’t use an exercise that does not have one because I am aware that when I have done exercises as a participant, reading the teaching note in retrospect always reveals learning points that I might have missed.” A few interviewees asked for more robust teaching notes for certain cases in the former Clearinghouse.

The Difficult Conversations framework worksheet and the seven elements prep sheet were appreciated for the structure they provide to facilitate student learning.

Charles Field suggested that PON faculty make regular videos with commentary about current conflicts and how they relate to negotiation. Conversations about events in Egypt and Libya, for example, could contribute to an ongoing dialogue about real-world applications for interest-based negotiation. Giving instructors more resources to explain negotiation’s relevance to real world conflicts and events would enhance classroom learning.

One interviewee expressed an interest in having a former Clearinghouse liaison who could answer customers’ targeted questions and recommend materials that deal with particular elements of practice, in the way that the former Director of Curriculum Development used to do.

Some interviewees expressed an interest in establishing a more active community of practice. It was suggested that PON expand its online negotiation pedagogy platform, perhaps getting more teachers and trainers to post questions, exchange materials and best practices. For example, Dawn Effron noted that she would be interested in hearing other practitioners’ perspectives on teaching negotiation and collaborative law. Introducing collaborative law “is a high point in the semester because after absorbing the principles of interest-based negotiation, students respond strongly to collaborative law as an exciting alternative to traditional legal practice.” Students are eager to know how to limit their practice to collaborative or interest-based negotiation. Having a forum to begin these conversations, especially if we could get practitioners involved, would be valuable. This platform might also be a place to incorporate other thinkers from outside PON.

We would like to thank our customers for sharing their thoughts with us and for their continued patronage. We take feedback very seriously and invite you to be part of the ongoing conversation on the NP@PON message board.

To discuss this article further please join us at the NP@PON Discussion Forum.


Written by Carrie O’Neil, taken from the Summer 2011 issue of Teaching Negotiation, the biannual e-Newsletter for Negotiation Pedagogy at the Program on Negotiation (NP@PON), which can be found here.


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