How To Use Models & Frameworks
In Henley MBA Assignments
By: Derek Jansen | May 2017
One of the most common issues we see while working with hundreds of Henley MBA students is poor model and framework integration and application. Sound selection and application of models and frameworks are key assessment criteria in the Henley MBA, so this practice ends up costing students serious marks.
In this post, I’ll show you how to incorporate models and frameworks into your assignments using a straightforward five-step process. The logic here also applies to tables. By following these steps, you will maximise the effectiveness of your models, frameworks and tables (we’ll call them MFTs for short), and increase the mark-earning potential of your assignments.
Step 1: Introduce and justify the MFT
in the preceding paragraph.
There’s nothing more annoying to a marker than when an MFT just appears out of nowhere with no introduction or justification. You (as the writer) may know exactly why it’s there, but you should always assume the marker does not. One of the assessment criteria in Henley MBA assignments is the demonstration of knowledge regarding when, where and why to utilise specific models or frameworks. So, just plonking a model or framework into your document without any introduction or justification provides the marker with no basis on which to assess your understanding of the underlying theory.
The moral of the story – always (briefly) introduce the MFT (state its figure number) and explain why you used it. Here’s an example of what that introductory line or two might look like:
As you can see, this is just a simple line or two explaining what you will be doing with the MFT and why. No rocket science here – just a little context-setting for the marker to help them understand your rationale.
Step 2: Populate (customise) the MFT
to your specific topic.
The number of times I’ve seen models and frameworks copied and pasted verbatim into assignments is far too high. Simply dumping a model verbatim demonstrates absolutely nothing to the marker, other than the fact that you read that part of the textbook or module material (and have the skill required to take a screenshot!). It adds absolutely no value to an assignment, and usually just annoys the marker – which is bad news for you.
Models and frameworks need to be applied to real-world problems in order for them to have value (and for you to earn marks from them). Therefore, you must always demonstrate application by populating frameworks and customising models. For clarity, here’s an example of the difference between a verbatim pasted model and a populated one.
Verbatim copy/paste model:
Customised and populated (i.e. applied) model:
Step 3: Caption and cite the MFT (correctly).
Poor citing and referencing is a persistent problem within assignments, but incorrect captioning and citing of figures and tables is even more common. For some reason, this aspect of presentation seems to be largely ignored by students. Like it or not, presentation is part of the marking criteria for Henley MBA assignments, so doing this will cost you substantial marks.
So, what’s needed? At the very least, every figure or table should be accompanied by the following components:
- A figure or table number.
- A brief, clear description of the MFT.
- A citation (when including a model or framework – usually not required for tables, unless the table is based on another piece of literature).
Here’s an example to help you visualise these components in action:
Step 4: Discuss the key insights from the MFT.
In Step 1, we spoke about the importance of introducing and justifying the incorporation of a model, framework or table. Equally important is the discussion of the MFT after its inclusion. In other words, don’t make the mistake of leaving the reader (marker) hanging, asking “so what?” or “what’s your point?”. Write up a brief concluding line or two after you’ve presented the MFT.
As with the introduction and justification, while the key insights produced by the presentation of the MFT may be completely clear in your mind, it is extremely important to explicitly communicate the resultant insights or conclusions in the paragraph that follows the MFT. For the most part, MFTs present a lot of information, so make it clear what your key takeaways are for the reader.
Where do I fit all of this?
At this stage, its understandable f you’re becoming concerned about your word count. While that’s a valid concern, remember that your MFT introduction and insights needn’t be long-winded. In fact, the more brief and concise you can be, the better. Effectively, you just need to highlight the most important points. Your key insights post-MFT, could, for example, look something like this:
Step 5 (Optional): Note the relevant limitations.
If you really want to impress the marker, one final matter that you can discuss is that of limitations. In other words, in Step 4, you identified the key insights or takeaways from the MFT, and in Step 5, you can demonstrate critical thinking by highlighting the potential weaknesses of these insights.
In the case of models and frameworks, you may wish to note their theoretical weaknesses, as identified by other academics, your textbook or study guide, or even yourself (be careful here though).
More broadly, however, you may wish to note the weaknesses that emerge from your own application of the model and frameworks (i.e. practical limitations). For example, was there a risk in terms of the quality of your data? Was there a risk of subjectivity or bias? Was your interview sample too small?
Essentially, by discussing limitations and weaknesses, you are demonstrating critical thinking, accepting and highlighting the potential pitfalls of your analysis. This is a good thing, and you should apply a critical view throughout your assignments, not just when using MFTs. Taking a critical view of your work (i.e. balanced view of strengths and weaknesses) is rewarded, not punished, in academia. Just don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis.
In this post, we’ve discussed how to incorporate models, frameworks and tables (MFTs) into your Henley MBA assignments (and MRC) for maximum impact. The five steps are:
- Introduce and justify the incorporation of the MFT.
- Populate and customize the MFT to your assignment’s specific context.
- Caption and cite the MFT in line with your Henley’s requirements.
- Briefly highlight the key insights and/or conclusions (the takeaways).
- Bonus – discuss the limitations, both theoretical and practical.
By following this process, you will ensure that your MFTs are well-considered, well presented and well understood, thereby allowing you to earn higher marks. You will also be forced to critically consider the value of including an MFT. This may result in you deciding to drop a few lower value MFTs.
Remember, quality of application is more important than quantity when it comes to using models and frameworks. A handful of well justified and applied MFTs can be extremely impactful.
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