August 19, 2020

Breaching Experiments: Crossing the Boundaries of the Classroom and the Real World

Room: WIDT 007


Instructors seeking to illustrate the everyday relevance of the topics they teach sometimes ask students to conduct "breaching experiments" in the campus or local community. Students are expected to tweak or flout social norms in public and report their own and observers' responses. The archetypal example is facing the rear while riding an elevator. While breaching exercises provide an engaging educational experience, they do come with risks. Issues of privacy, anxiety, physical safety, and reputational damage are all concerns a faculty member must take into consideration. IRB-like protocols should be thought through and followed in an effort to retain the viability of such activities in the future. The risk analysis must encompass a broad range of stakeholders, from the student to the institution to the broader community. In this presentation, we will provide examples of breaching experiments we have used and give participants an opportunity to discuss their own breaching assignments. We will provide instructors a template for designing their own breaching assignments providing guidance for alignment with teaching goals, assignment instructions, evaluating results, and reducing risks.

*Participants will learn how to design, implement, evaluate, and reduce risks when using breaching experiments (purposefully tweaking or flouting social norms) to enhance student understanding of course concepts.

Lisa GabbertTimothy M. Gardner, PhD

Associate Professor of Management

Tim Gardner is a recognized expert on strategic human resource management, including aligning HR systems with firm strategy, employment branding, unorthodox sourcing and recruiting techniques, and retention. His career includes extensive experience in the human resources field for several U.S.-based companies.

John Ferguson, JD/MTS

Lisa Gabbert

Senior Lecturer

John Ferguson is a graduate of Vanderbilt University's Law and Divinity schools, where he earned his Juris Doctor and Master of Theological Studies degrees. He has been a member of the Tennessee, Washington, D.C., and Supreme Court bars. After graduation, Ferguson spent the next decade on the front lines of the culture wars as the First Amendment Education Coordinator and Attorney for the First Amendment Center in Nashville, TN.

Alexander Romney, PhD

Lisa Gabbert

Assistant Professor of Marketing and Strategy

Alexander C. Romney is an Assistant Professor in the Marketing and Strategy Department of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University. His research is focused on four main areas: employee voice, the meaning of work, leadership, and teaming. He is especially interested in how employees learn, grow, and develop personally through their work experiences.