Tracking the Career Paths of Marketing and Business Education Graduates

Article excerpt

Marketing and business education faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Stout (UW-Stout) recently conducted a longitudinal study, spanning the entire 35 years of the program's existence, describing and analyzing its graduates' career paths. The UW-Stout Marketing and Business Education (MBE) program originated as a distributive education teacher education program. The program transitioned through the years to Marketing and Distributive Education, Marketing Education, and finally to Marketing and Business Education in the year 2003, reflecting an optional business education certification.

Respondents of this study all completed the program prior to its current program name. It should be pointed out that all of the research study's respondents elected to pursue a program preparing them to teach distributive and/or marketing education. Respondents who indicate teaching business education either graduated from the program since 1997 or earned their certifications after initial licensure through UW-Stout or another institution.

Marketing and business education remain significant content areas offered in United States comprehensive public schools (Stone, Kowski, & Alfeld, 2004). Marketing and business educators tend to see themselves as serving the learning community by bringing rigor and relevance to learners by teaching academic and industry knowledge, skills and dispositions through a business-like teaching and learning philosophy (Kazis, 2005). Their teaching strategies are generally hands-on and contextual based.

Within the current political, economic and social environment, attracting and retaining quality marketing and business educators is a critical issue (Ruhland & Bremer, 2003). In addition, it is projected that retirements will add significant pressure to staffing programs with highly qualified career and technical education teachers (Szuminski, 2002).

In an effort to design teacher education programs to meet the impending teacher demand, teacher preparation programs must understand their graduates' career paths and motivations.

This research study sought to conduct a longitudinal study defining career paths of UW-Stout MBE program graduates and to provide the UW-Stout MBE program faculty with insight into its graduates career journeys.

Since the program's inception, one- and three-year graduate follow-up studies have been conducted on a regular basis. While these studies go a long way toward continuous improvement of the program's design, curriculum and effectiveness at transitioning graduates into productive life-work contexts, they do not provide adequate data relative to how the program served its graduates beyond their initial employment. Therefore, the study will contribute to the knowledge base needed by the program director and faculty in their quest to better prepare graduates for their careers and gauge the program's impact on its graduates over time.

Methods and Procedures

Data was collected through a questionnaire that utilized a combination of Likert-type responses, open-ended questions with defined response criteria, and a chronological career journey chart that required respondents to map their individual career journeys. In addition, demographic responses were requested in an effort to enhance data analysis for the purpose of reporting findings by similar and dissimilar characteristics.

Respondents were mailed a program newsletter that included an invitation to take part in the research study. The newsletter served several purposes. It encouraged respondents to reflect on their undergraduate program, provided them with an update on the program's current status, explained the research project, invited them to participate in the study, and welcomed them to receive a summary of the research findings.

Demographic Profile

Responses were received in nearly equal distributions from every year in each decade of the program's existence (1970 through 2004). …