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How One Marketing Professor Makes Complex Concepts Accessible to Students

Innovative Educator - Blog Post-min
Our innovative educators series highlights professors using original & refreshing teaching approaches in their classes. 


For instructors, it’s a perpetual challenge: how do you get students engaged and excited to learn in the classroom? Professor of Marketing Dr. Mary Beth McCabe seems to have found an effective answer: make teaching relevant and keep it simple!

Professor McCabe has been a marketing professor and professional for over 30 years and is currently teaching several marketing courses at the Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California. As a self-described global mindset educator, she likes taking complex, universal concepts and making them simple and relatable so students can understand.


Keep it simple! Professor McCabe describes her teaching approach


How to empower students? Show, don't tell


Students often hit roadblocks when faced with a new project and don't know how to move forward. To remedy this, Professor McCabe believes they need to be shown and not told, and to specifically see the professor in their own shoes.

She gave an example of how she had recently tasked her marketing students to put together a presentation on an integrated marketing communications plan. 

"They want to know what they have to present. They want to have answers even before they put their body up in front of the audience and present. So I thought, what is a good way for me to do that? I did provide previous student examples, however, there's nothing like your teacher getting up, and presenting their version of what the assignment is."

How she helps students gain confidence for specific projects


Tap into the senses for effective learning

Working in television taught Professor McCabe that you need to exploit all the senses: hearing, sight, sound, touch, and also emotion to get concepts to sink in. According to her, students learn in different manners so she likes to explore how to use different senses and emotions to convey topics differently. 

She also likes to start off class by asking her students what's inspiring them at the moment. 

Her secret for getting students revved up for learning 


Collaborative learning, storytelling, simulations - a recipe for success 

Professor McCabe combines different learning techniques in her classroom for maximum impact. A big advocate for collaborative learning strategies, she makes sure her students work together in teams wherever possible. She also likes using marketing case studies that tell a compelling story and resonate with students. "It's the story, not necessarily the case that sticks"

One other teaching method she swears by is simulations. She uses several in her various marketing courses, including Markstrat and Digital MediaPRO. Not only do simulations allow students to work and learn together as a team, they also link theory to application in a fun, exciting way, like a game. 

"I like simulations because it gives students application. They get a chance to almost gamify their experience." 

For her, any method that allows students to get as much hands-on experience before they enter their first job or internship in the real world is key. 

The more application students can add to their resumes, the better 


Her #1 teaching tip to spark innovation: Travel! 


Professor McCabe believes exploring outside of your comfort zone is the perfect way to find inspiration and boost innovation in the classroom. An avid traveller and travel author herself, she simply recommends that educators travel to expand their teaching outlook.  It can be a powerful tool to discover other cultures and find that they aren't so different from our own. 

"The more connected we are the better we can teach."

She says that traveling can simply be to the next town, or the next state. But the mindset is there to experience what is going on with people in other parts of the world. Afterall, understanding human behaviors across cultures a fundamental and important Marketing concept. 

What traveling can provide Marketing professors according to Mary Beth



More about the simulations Professor McCabe uses in her marketing courses: 


Digital MediaPRO

Digital MediaPRO is an immersive simulation that illustrates media challenges in the digital age.

Key actions

  • Exposes students to the use of digital media
  • Communicating with digital natives
  • Transforming media planning & execution

Learn more about Digital MediaPRO



Markstrat is designed for experiencing strategic marketing concepts, such as brand portfolio strategy, segmentation and positioning strategies.

Key learnings

  • Strategic Perspective & operational decisions
  • Long-term Perspective: up to 10 simulated years
  • Making decisions in a time-sensitve, highly competitive market
  • High level of analysis
  • Managing Marketing as a profit centre

Learn more about Markstrat



Get a Free Demo