1 MBA Marketing Student Perceptions of their Own Learning Sharyn Rundle-Thiele, Griffith University Abstract This research responds to Engelland (2004) who suggested that marketing educators need to evaluate whether students have learned what was intended. A survey was developed to assess MBA Marketing student perceptions of their own learning. T-tests were used to compare student learning perceptions from two classes, exposed to different assessment and different teaching styles. Student perceptions of their own achievement of learning aims can provide insightful information to inform curriculum development. While the survey suggested the educator in class one needed to reduce the chalk and talk emphasis students considered there was further room for improvement in both classes. An additional outcome of evaluating student learning is the identification of additional learning outcomes. Students perceived they had learned about selected Australian industries and companies, and the impact of marketing on everyday life. Introduction The marketing education literature remains largely driven from a teacher rather than student centred perspective. Researchers suggest that if we are to understand learning a students view point is important. As recommended by Pratt (1997) to understand the effects of teaching on student learning marketing educators must move beyond seeking to understand teacher and teaching method competence. Research needs to consider the students learning experience, as the students learning experience should also guide course design. Methods that directly consider student perspectives on the activities of teaching and learning will enable marketing educators to develop a richer understanding of the contributions of various learning activities to the achievement of specific learning outcomes (Karns, 2005). In addition to measuring student satisfaction with the quality of teaching that is received Engelland (2004) suggests marketing educators need to evaluate whether students have learned what was intended. By seeking to understand student learning marketing educators can receive diagnostic information that can result in actionable changes. Following Engelland s (2004) suggestion this article summarises a student evaluation form that sought to measure whether students have learned what was intended. Data on student learning, collected in two different MBA Marketing classes, was analysed. This paper concludes with implications for teaching practice. Literature Review In response to the increasing acceptance of student-centred learning in the higher education literature a number of studies in marketing education (see Table 1) have been conducted to assess student preferences for both teaching and learning activities (Bridges, 1999; Karnes, 1993; 2005) and learning outcomes (Duke, 2002).
2 Table 1: Summary of Key Studies Authors Sample Method Study conclusions (Year) Bridges (1999) Students in market research class Focus groups & surveys. Examined preferences among marketing research students, finding that hands-on, interactive, real-world learning activities were preferred. Duke (2002) Engelland (2004) Feldman (2003) Gault, Redington and Schlager (2000) Hamer (2000) Karns (1993) Karns (2005) 502 Business Major Students 159 of which were Marketing Student evaluation surveys from 9 classes 31 MBA students 446 Business Alumni 158 undergraduate market research students. 122 undergraduate students in final year of study 227 Advanced Marketing Students Online student forum Students perceived interpersonal skills, leadership, and global economy issues to be the most important learning outcomes. Student evaluation scores offer no real insight into how teaching effectiveness or student learning can be improved upon. Peer to peer student assessment and feedback can improve student learning. Experiential education encourages success in the job market. Business undergrads with work experience found employment faster than those without. These students also reported higher pay rates and higher overall levels of job satisfaction. Experiential learning methods enhance student learning more so than traditional lecture type formats. Classroom based experiential learning techniques led to an increase in the amount of definitional and non-definitional knowledge acquired by students. Guest speakers were found to be the most preferred learning activity by undergraduate marketing students and term papers were the least preferred learning activities. The most effective pedagogies, from the perspective of how much the activities contributed to their learning, were discussion, client projects, and guest speakers while multiple choice was the least effective. Internships, class discussion, and case analyses were seen by undergraduate marketing students as the learning activities that most contribute to their learning. Karns (2006) O Toole, Spinelli & Wetzel (2000) Young (2005) 227 students at eight different Universities 155 business students 85 Business Faculty Members 257 undergraduate marketing students Catering intensively to learning style individual differences is not warranted. Marketing educators can sufficiently meet the needs of students by providing a range of learning experiences that tap multiple learning modalities. Important learning dimensions included delivery of material, which translates into presentation clarity, enthusiasm for teaching and fairness and quality of the exams. Active application-orientated experience delivered by enthusiastic faculty, who provide high interaction, supportive feedback, and clear goals that emphasise learning over grades, will increase intrinsic motivation and the use of self-regulated strategies. To date the marketing education literature remains teaching process or action focussed rather than student focussed. For example, Karns (2005) reports the use of guest speakers in lecture as the students most preferred learning activity while O Toole, Spinelli and Wetzel s (2000) study suggests students and educators feel the delivery of material is an important learning dimension, while Young (2005) suggests that an active application-orientated experience
3 delivered by enthusiastic faculty, who provide high interaction, supportive feedback and clear goals that emphasise learning will increase intrinsic motivation, and finally, Karns (2005) identifies internships, class discussion and cases analysis as activities that contribute to learning. A review of the literature suggests that to date there are no studies in the marketing education literature that seek to understand whether students perceive that they have learnt what was intended. Methodology A questionnaire (recommended by Pratt, 1997) focussing on student learning was administered in two different classes in the last scheduled teaching week of the semester. The questionnaire contained one seven point item for each course aim and objective. Students were asked to rate their progress for each course aim and objective using a 7 point scale where zero was no progress, one was little progress, and seven was extraordinary progress (see Appendix 1). The questionnaire also consisted of a further four open-ended questions to gain feedback on what students considered would help them to progress further on the stated aims and objectives, what else could have been done to facilitate their progress and students assessment of any additional learning in the course. A t-test was used to assess the statistical significance between the two classes (Hair et al, 1995). The two classes were exposed to different assessments and different teaching styles (see Table 2 below). At the end of semester students were asked to rate their progress for each course aim, using a seven point scale. Table 2: The Two Classes Class Assessment (Grade weighting) Teaching style 1 Industry Overview Report (20%) Marketing Plan (40%) Exam (40%) interact in class. 2 Markstrat Simulation (30%) Essay (40%) Exam (405) Chalk and talk lecture style. Little opportunity was provided for students to Classes were designed for students to be active and students were given many opportunities to discuss with peers and the lecturer. Results The student learning survey required students to rate their own progress for each course aim. The survey sought student feedback on areas that would help them to progress further on the stated aims and any additional learning gained for their MBA Marketing course. Student perceptions on their own progress The learning objectives for the marketing courses are summarised in table two along with the students perceptions of their progress on each of the learning objectives. Twenty-four students were enrolled in class one and nineteen students attended the final class and completed the survey. Twelve students were enrolled in class two and all students attended the final class and completed the survey.
4 Table 3: Descriptive statistics Learning objectives Class 1 Class 2 (n=19) (n=12) Mean (St Dv) 1 Relate marketing to key business functions including human resource 3.06 (0.99) 4.00 (0.74) management, finance and production 2 Demonstrate an understanding of marketings role in the performance of 3.53 (1.07) 4.83 (0.83) a company 3 Integrate marketing concepts and formulate elementary marketing plans 3.42 (1.02) 4.41 (0.67) 4 Identify target markets and the positioning of products and services 3.63 (0.90) 4.25 (1.05) 5 Identify and understand the tools utilised within the marketing 3.18 (0.84) 4.33 (0.89) discipline 6 Guide the management of an organisations marketing activities 2.92 (0.95) 3.91 (1.24) On average students perceived they had made average (3) progress on the stated course aims and outcomes in class 1. Overall, students in class two considered they had made good (4) to excellent (5) progress on the stated course aims and outcomes. These results indicate that students perceive there is considerable room for improvement. A t-test was used to assess the statistical significance between the two classes (Hair et al, 1995) and the results of the t-test are displayed in Table 4 below. Table 4: T-test Results Main effects t df Mean Standard p-value* difference error Aim Aim Aim Aim Aim Aim Notes: * = p<0.05 The results of the t-tests suggest that student progress on the course aims was higher in class two than class one. Students in class 2 perceived they had made more progress on five out of the six course aims. This difference may reflect different teaching styles. There was no statistical difference between the two classes in student perceptions regarding their own ability to demonstrate an understanding of the role of marketing in the performance of a company. The largest differences were for aims 1 and 6. Students in class two perceived they were better able to guide the management of marketing activities and relate marketing to key business functions including human resource management, finance and production. These large differences in Aims 1 and 6 may reflect the use of the Markstrat simulation in class two. Markstrat requires students to make target market, brand portfolio, product research and development, advertising, pricing, market research, financing, sales force, and production decisions in each decision period (Larreche, Gatignon and Triolet, 2003). The use of the Markstrat simulation helped students to gain an improved student understanding of the role of marketing in business performance as company performance in Markstrat is linked directly to marketing performance (e.g. marketing contribution).
5 Additional learning gained from the MBA Marketing course Asides from learning the key marketing concepts presented in their marketing course consideration of the students own point of view highlighted additional learning outcomes that had not been conceived previously by the marketing educators in the faculty. For example, consideration of the students own perspective identified one of the important aspects learned in the Marketing course by International students involved learning about Australian companies and industries while Australian students learnt about the industries that their peers worked in. Further aspects of importance to marketing students were learning about creativity and how to increase sales in their current role. While a final aspect noted was the influence that marketing has over every aspect of life. Student recommendations to facilitate student learning When invited to respond on what could be done to facilitate their learning feedback from students suggested that learning in class one was inhibited by a reliance on the traditional lecture format or sage on the stage approach to teaching. For example, class discussions, debates and interactions with a reduced emphasis on Powerpoint slides were recommended by students to help them better progress on the stated aims and objectives. Students at postgraduate level feel facilitation of their learning is more appropriate due to their experience as consumers, and their industry experience as managers. Students felt that a more hands on approach where they are actively involved in activities such as case analysis and consideration of their own companies would help them to better progress on the stated aims and objectives. Respondents recommended that learning in marketing could be further enhanced by getting outside of the classroom. Given that 20% of people learn what they hear while 80% of people learn what they use and do in real life (Biggs, 2003) activities such as planned excursions to shopping centres to consider store site selection are likely to significantly enhance learning outcomes for students. Finally, students recommended providing ideas on marketing career options. Students noted they were not aware of the considerable career options afforded by the marketing profession. Building student awareness of the myriad options available in the marketing profession will stimulate student interest in the tasks set, which may lead to better learning outcomes. Conclusions Monitoring student perceptions of their own achievement of learning aims can provide insightful information to inform curriculum development. In this research student feedback provided diagnostic information that could be used to change courses. Furthermore, the survey permitted the identification of additional learning outcomes for the MBA Marketing course. A limitation in this study involved the differences between the two classes. While the survey described in this paper provided insight suggesting the use of a simulation may have improved student understanding of how marketing impacts firm performance, differences in both the teaching style and assessment requirements make it impossible to state exactly why student perceptions differ. The research design described in this paper should be used to assess the impact of a single change to improve our understanding about how different teaching styles and assessment items can impact student perceptions of their own learning. This research should be extended to relate student perceptions to their own grade outcomes. These efforts would assist researchers to understand whether a higher perception to achievement of learning objectives actually translated to higher achievement overall.
6 References Biggs, J., Teaching for Quality Learning at University. 2 nd edition. Open University Press, Philadelphia, USA. Bridges, E., Experiential learning and customer needs in the undergraduate marketing research course. Journal of Marketing Education 21 (1), Duke, C.R., Learning outcomes: Comparing student perceptions of skill level and performance. Journal of Marketing Education 24 (3), Engelland, B.T., Making effective use of student evaluations to improve teaching performance. Journal of Advancement for Marketing Education 5 (Winter), Feldman, L.S , Exemplum Docent: Maximising student learning by involving students and technology in the assessment and feedback process. Journal for the Advancement of Marketing Education (3), Gault, J. Redington, J. and Schlager, T., Undergraduate business internships and career success: Are they related? Journal of Marketing Education 22 (1), Larreche, J-C., Gatignon, H. and Triolet, R., Markstrat Online Student Handbook: Building the bridge from learning to action. StratX International. Hair, J.F., Anderson, R.E., Tatham, R.L. and Black, W.C., Multivariate Data Analysis (4 th edition), Prentice Hall, New Jersey. Hamer, L.O The additive effects of semi-structured classroom activities on student learning: An application of classroom-based experiential learning techniques. Journal of Marketing Education 22 (1), Karns, G.L Marketing student perceptions of learning activities: Structure, preferences, and effectiveness. Journal of Marketing Education 15 (1), Karns, G.L An update of marketing student perceptions of learning activities: Structure, preferences and effectiveness. Journal of Marketing Education 27 (2), Karns, G.L Learning style differences in the perceived effectiveness of learning activities. Journal of Marketing Education 28 (1), O Toole, D.M, M.A. Spinelli and J.N. Wetzel The Important Learning Dimensions in the School of Business: A survey of students and faculty. Journal of Education for Business July/August, Pratt, D Reconceptualising the evaluation of teaching in higher education. Higher Education (34), Young, M.R The motivational effects of the classroom environment in facilitating selfregulated learning. Journal of Marketing Education 27 (1),
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