Designing and Measuring Educational Outcomes Utilizing Student Portfolios for Business Management Education

Article excerpt

There is a major contextual change occurring in business schools across America. The public is demanding tangible proof that colleges and universities are preparing business students for a competitive work environment. Research indicates business schools are too technical and quantitative in their curriculum. Internal and external stakeholders suggest business schools develop human relations skills and effective problem solving skills for today's contemporary business student. This article describes the process of developing educational outcomes for the business curriculum by examining skills and supporting abilities required of business managers. After the educational outcomes are identified for students, they are required to design and develop student portfolios. The student portfolio is created upon the student's work experience in measuring educational outcomes in the area of human relation's skills and effective problem solving skills. Students were required to complete a pretest and posttest survey based upon two case problems. The business cases for the pretest and posttest requirements involved the application of total quality management. The survey was administrated to 76 business students. The student's answers were measured on nine dimensions of TQM. Students developed a Total Quality Management portfolio based upon their own work experience after completing the pretest. A dependent t-test was utilized in this study. The results indicated business students who were exposed to a student portfolio increased their mean posttest TQM score as compared to the mean pretest TQM score. Student portfolios enhance the business curriculum; and they are an innovative instructional and assessment tool in measuring educational outcomes for business students.

Relevance of Contextual Change in Business Schools

There is controversy in how business schools educate graduate and undergraduate students for the 21st century. External stakeholders accuse business students of being too technical and quantitative in their studies (Cheit, 1985; Hayes & Abernathy, 1980; Boyatzis, 1994; Waddock, 1991). Also, they denounce business schools for not appropriately challenging students; such as, developing critical and integrative thinking skills (Brannen, 1985-1986; Cheit, 1985; Katz, 1974 Senge, 1990). One of the most serious accusations addresses failure to develop and improve human relations skills required of managers (Boyatzis, 1994, Cheit, 1985; Hayes & Abemathy, 1980; Whetten & Cameron, 1991). Whetten and Cameron, (1991), indicate managers must possess exceptual human relations skills to manage effectively in an organization. Managers utilizing human relations skills are considered the most important management attributes when compared to other organizational factors in predicting a firm's performance (Whetten & Cameron, 1991; Magill & Herden, 1998). A key organizational success factor is the ability of managers to demonstrate excellent leadership skills, which will motivate employees to perform at their highest levels. It is imperative for business students to become proficient in implementing these skills in the workplace.

The public is demanding tangible proof that universities can prepare business students for a competitive market. (Farman & Jablonka, 1990). Numerous states have passed current legislation mandating assessment of higher education programs that measure the value of these degrees. The American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) has guidelines under the Malcolm Baldridge Award in evaluating higher education business programs. These accreditation bodies are requiring members to gather meaningful data by assessing their business education programs. This approach forces business schools to evaluate educational outcomes within their curriculum.

Another contextual change is the expectation placed on all employees within an organization to perform at the highest level everyday, all day (Magill and Herden, 1998). …