Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Curriculum Advice from Your Advisory Board: A Survey Instrument

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Curriculum Advice from Your Advisory Board: A Survey Instrument

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

One of the most important aspects of a business program is its curriculum. Traditionally, however, the curriculum has been one of the most challenging items for a business school to change. Faculty members are often content to teach what they have always taught in their courses. Moreover, when a curriculum has been changed, too often the impetus for change was the arrival of a new faculty member who wanted his or her pet course included in the curriculum. Indeed, one of the authors of this paper remembers a period of eight years at a school during which not a single part of the undergraduate business curriculum was changed. While a business school in the past might have been able to survive with an outmoded curriculum, that is no longer the case. Indeed, rapid changes in the global business climate over the past ten years and corresponding changes in the skills and attributes demanded by employers of business graduates have forced business schools to establish processes that ensure periodic curriculum review.

Simultaneously, many external governing boards across the country have recently mandated that universities hold the semester hours needed for graduation in a four-year degree program to 120. Over the years, many universities have allowed the hours needed for graduation to creep upward beyond the traditional 120 as a way of placing additional courses in the curriculum without eliminating any courses that were previously included. Reducing a current curriculum from 126-132 hours down to 120 hours fosters a lively discussion among faculty concerning what is truly necessary for a bachelor's degree in business.

Further, AACSB International, the major accrediting organization for collegiate schools of business, has embraced periodic curriculum review as one of the processes necessary for a school to show continuous improvement in its efforts to achieve the school's mission ("Achieving Quality and Continuous Improvement Through Self Evaluation and Peer Review: Standards for Accreditation--Business Administration and Accounting," 2007). Thus, a number of forces have combined to force business schools and their faculty to assess on a regular basis the strengths and weaknesses of their curricula.

In order to have an effective curriculum faculty must seek information from a variety of stakeholders--current and former students, employers, graduate schools, etc. The advice of external stakeholders is especially important since, as employers of our students, they know firsthand the strengths and weaknesses of a school's graduates. Thus, in an effort to provide information needed by faculty to make curricular choices, business schools have sought the advice of external stakeholders, such as employers of business school graduates and members of external advisory boards (Ireland, Ramsower, Raegan, and Carini 1994). Since a school's external advisory board normally consists of representatives of local/regional firms with a vested interest in the success of the business school, the advisory board is an excellent starting point for input concerning the school's curriculum.

THE SITUATION

A curriculum review was initiated for the AACSB-accredited bachelor of science in business administration at this medium sized university. The common core of general education classes to be taken by all undergraduate students within the university had recently been established (to be effective in one year the following academic year) and adjustments were made and implemented regarding other general education requirements for business majors. However, an additional decision was made to convert from a 127 hour business administration degree to 120 hours (effective in two years). A part of that decision was a commitment by the College to continue the curriculum review, adjusting the general education requirement to 60 hours, the business administration core curriculum to 30 hours, and the courses specified for the major to 30 hours. …

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