Showing posts with label business colleges. Show all posts
Showing posts with label business colleges. Show all posts

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Teaching Business Graduates to Apply Theory

Students enter graduate school with an abundance of hopes and enthusiasm to transform themselves into the next guru CEO that transforms companies to great profit. Sometimes that enthusiasm dissipates when they realize the equally abundant amount of work that is necessary to learn the skills needed to achieve that success. The ability of students to understand higher levels of theoretical material and apply that material to solve important problems for “real world” performance is beneficial for life success.  Graduates who know how to understand theory and apply it are worth more than those who cannot.

It is through this application that theoretical models are adjusted to working models that adequately function within the business world. When theories are adjusted and refined they provide a level of feedback that helps to ensure the theory continues to adjust to a more practical end. The development and attempted application of theory is part of the process of business development.

Some students, unfortunately too many students, read information and rephrase it without trying to understand the information at a deeper level. Graduate students should be more like working scholars that read, understand, and apply best practice theories to solve everyday workplace problems. Their ability to move beyond simple citation and regurgitation is important for future growth and success. 

Graduate students should receive their Master Degree Diploma’s with a level of knowledge and skills that transfer to the modern workplace. Unfortunately, many business school students’ graduates lack sufficient writing, interpersonal communication, and critical thinking skills to effectively navigate their work environment (Everson, 2014).  Making them seek relevant information and communicate about it is important for their development.

The use of theory to solve practical problems can have strong business implications that can better bridge the gaps between the business community universities. For example, business and communication students at a large university in the U.S. competed to solve authentic business problems proposed by a Fortune 500 Company (Brozovic & Matz, 2009). The company was impressed with some of the recommendations and implemented them into their operations while students were able to learn how to apply theoretical knowledge. 

Such collaborations between the business and the academic world are unfortunately rare. Higher education has a responsibility to adequately prepare students for successful employment while business should ensure that business colleges are teaching appropriate curriculum that suits their needs long-term needs. Building connections between the two worlds can only be helpful for the development of both.

Students may resent having to look in the library for materials, read those materials thoroughly, and then formulate an opinion on how to apply the concepts but this is vitally important for successful business management. Business is about solving consumer and market problems and those future executives that can apply knowledge to difficult problems are not only likely to be more effective but also increase their value through continuous learning. 

Brzovic, K. & Matz, I. (2009). Students advise fortune 500 company: designing a problem-based learning community. Business Communication Quarterly, 72 (1). 

Everson, K. (2014). Shrinking the business school skill gap. Chief Learning Officer, 13 (9).

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Are Today’s Business Graduates More Ethical?

Are business students becoming more ethical? College of business students are starting to see more value in ethics when compared to previous generations and this could have a positive influence on their future decision-making. According to a study by Hollier, et. al. (2013) the infusion of ethics classes in universities are helping students make ethical choices. This will naturally have an impact on the corporate world and the way in which decisions impact environments. 

Ethics is a concept of understanding the differences between right and wrong, a manner of character and the inclusive way in which a person makes decisions. When ethics are lacking people make choices that benefit them the most without considering the larger costs on society or the people who will be hurt by their choices. A lack of business ethics can have a huge impact on the functionality of business and in turn impact societal trust. 

Most colleges focus the far majority of their time teaching how to make money and very little on the ethical consideration of activities. Ethical decision making can have a direct impact on the image of the company and the trust built within society. Ethics classes can help future executives think through their choices and the possible outcomes to proper conclusions.

The classical longitudinal ethical dilemma in the study was:  

A salesman with a competitor has approached the Vice-President of Sales of a larger competitor with an offer to disclose specifics on a bid proposal which both companies have been asked to prepare. The successful bidder will have exclusive contracts with the client. The potential sales related to this client will exceed $2 million over a three year contract period. In return for disclosing his employer's bid data, the salesman wants the Vice-President of Sales to hire/employ him as a district sales manager. If you were the Vice-President of Sales what would you do? (Grant & Broom, 1988; Farling & Winston, 2001).

The past two decades have seen a positive improvement in ethical decision making among students. In 1988 31% of students would accept the offer, 17% in 2001, and 8% in 2011. The trend is clear-students are becoming more ethical. The authors argue that improved inclusion of ethics classes and public awareness of scandals have helped change the landscape for young students. The continued focus on helping students think through their options, providing them stronger frameworks for decision-making, and encouraging higher standards has a positive benefit that makes their way into the business world. 

Farling, M. & Winston, B. (2001). A replication study: attitudes toward ethics: a view of the college student. Teaching Business Ethics, 5,251-266.

Grant, E. W., Jr. & Broom, L. S. (1988). Attitudes towards ethics: a view of the college student. Journal of Business Ethics, 7, 617-619.

Hollier, G. et. al. (2013). College business students attitudes toward ethics. Journal of Business & Behavioral Sciences, 25 (1).

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Basic College Writing Enhances Business Course Outcomes

Business relies heavily on communication skills used in varying fields of study. Students often lack fundamental writing skills that can transfer into credibility, effectiveness and opportunity in the future. According to a 2013 paper by Dr. Carolyn Sturgeon colleges can do a better job at teaching students higher levels of written communication skills that can translate into productive projects. 

Students often resist courses in writing and English composition because they view these skills as secondary to their goals. Similar to the difficulty of getting your teenage children to throw out the trash these students are not excited about the tedious tasks of grammar, spelling, formatting, sentence structure, and citations. There is no denying that such classes are often boring and uninspiring and on the surface appear to be unnecessary.

Some students may need to complete 5-6 composition courses before effectively moving into their respective fields of study. There are other students that may not have mastered basic writing in high school and will need further remedial courses to perform at a college level. High school graduates who start at a lower rung will naturally need additional time, money and resources to improve their skills. Poor high school preparation equates directly to higher college costs. 

From the authors experience she has seen 90% of students avoid thesis writing and move more toward projects.  There is a natural avoidance of written work in classrooms as students lean more heavily on other skills. She suggests that students should be required to learn writing skills before entering their majors as this will make them more effective in their programs. 

The paper doesn’t move into this concept but it is possible to see an integration of more writing into traditional courses. For example, instead of 5-6 composition courses it may be possible to have 3 compensation courses and integrate graded writing into the colleges classes. This would require professors to understand the use of language and provide appropriate direction to students once their English composition requirements have been fulfilled to ensure they are developing their grammar, spelling, tense, clarity, formatting, and depth skills. 

Furthermore, online education is more heavily reliant on writing as part of the curriculum. It makes one wonder if graduating students are stronger at writing from an online institution than those coming from other types of universities.  Students are more likely to be judged on their individual writing skills than relying on an elite writer of a group assignment or a few assignments.

Sturgeon, C. (2013). Service courses: forays to bridge the gulf and invite new “citizens”.  CEA Forum, v42 n1 p208-245.