Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Using the Blackboard CMS to Develop Team Work Skills in Undergraduate Marketing Principles Class

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Using the Blackboard CMS to Develop Team Work Skills in Undergraduate Marketing Principles Class

Article excerpt


Speaking in a recent interview at the Colombia School of Business, financier Warren Buffet was asked about the single most important business skill MBA students could acquire. Without hesitation, Buffet named communication skills as the most important, especially in relation to getting teams to work together towards a common goal. Of the prospects of the Colombia graduates, Buffet said all of them had bright futures, offering to give any of them $100,000 today for 10% of their lifetime gross earnings. If they developed team building communication skills, Buffet continued, he would offer them $150,000 (Buffet, 2009).

If business leaders such as Warren Buffet recognize the value of communication and team building skills in particular, reformers from both outside and inside academia have focused on the problem of workforce preparation more generally (Hartley, Mantle-Bromley, & Cobb, 1996). Managers had complained that schools failed to teach graduates the team approach to problem solving (Porter & McKibbon, 1988), and the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable (1990) reported that graduates lacked knowledge in a team approach to problem solving. Usluata (1997) reported that students spend much time in school learning to be competitive and earning the highest scores but lack the teamwork skills necessary for the competitive world of business.

Within the business curriculum, some courses are designed to foster the development of team work skills. For example, Business Communication courses utilize several techniques to encourage the development of teamwork such as cooperative learning, collaborative learning, group techniques, and active learning (Chalupa, Sormunen, & Charles, 1999; Hershey and Wood, 2006). According to Johnson, Johnson, and Holubec (1994), students maximize their own as well as other's learning through cooperative learning. For example, Simendinger (2008) notes the use of dyadic exercises to develop team skills in advance of grouping students into term project work groups. Similarly, after using team learning projects for over eight years, Metheny and Metheny (1997) reported that their students attained higher levels of learning than with the traditional lecture format. What we suggest here is that these same techniques can, and should be, extended beyond the entry-level communications course into other courses in business. In this paper, we propose extending these techniques for developing team work skills in the marketing principles course.

Team projects can utilize face-to-face or computer-mediated activities (Warkentin, Sayeed, & Hightower, (1997), and e-mail is a popular computer-mediated tool to help students communicate (Extejt, 1998). A Gallup poll found that 90 percent of all businesses use e-mail (Dichter & Burkhardt, 1996), and Ku (1996) found younger employees more likely to use e-mail. Dillon (2004) reported that managers stress the importance of teaching e-mail clarity as our correspondence becomes more electronic and global.

Since managers often work in geographically dispersed teams, Kaiser, Tullar, and McKowen, (2000) chose a human resources project to prepare their students for future management roles. Students from two schools in North Carolina and one in Worms, Germany, formed search committees and watched digitized videos of job interviews. Teams then participated in electronic meetings that led to group consensus.

Another mock job interview activity for a business course at the Chinese University in Hong Kong was developed from criteria gathered from interviews with more than 30 recruiters from different companies. The student interviewers formed panels of three students and interviewed three candidates. The panels then had to come to consensus on the evaluation as well as an appropriate grade for the candidates (Lundelius & Poon, 1997).

Both oral and written communication, are also emphasized by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business guidelines (AACSB, 2009). …

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