Learning Assessment for Curriculum Improvement in Business Education

The goal of this project was to foster a culture of leaning assessment in a  business school and to engage faculty in best practices that improve students thinking skills,communication skills, and values. Business students who demonstrate a high level of competence and who can incorporate ethical practices and principles into their professional and personal lives will not only be prepared for the business world, but will also acquire a liberal education that prepares them for global citizenship.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Valia Spiliotopoulos
Co-Investigators: Kirk Kristofferson & David Silver
Funding Agency: Teaching  and Learning Enhancement Fund Grant

Additional Team Members: Dr. Carson Woo and Thomas Allard

What's Proposed

This project aims to support evidence-informed curriculum redesign of undergraduate and graduate business programs through the direct assessment of student learning outcomes. The results of this project will be of direct benefit to students as the data collected will help inform curriculum design in ways that can develop students’ thinking skills (i.e. critical thinking, analytical decision-making, skills in synthesis/integration of knowledge), oral and written communication skills, and values (i.e. ethics and sustainability).

How This Project is Carried Out

2010 - 2011 To assess learning objectives, the principal applicant collaborated with business faculty to articulate learning goals and objectives, create draft rubrics (with traits and performance levels defined in detail) for each learning objective in each program (BCOM, MBA, Master's of Management, PhD). Rubrics and assessment instruments were reviewed to ensure alignment and data validity and reliability.

2011 - 2013  Data were gathered by applying the rubric to the assessment instrument used to measure student learning. Results were presented in terms of showing the percentage of students who exceeded, met, or did not meet performance levels for each of the criteria within a learning objective.  This was done for all learning objectives across all programs.  Basic quantitative analysis (descriptive statistics) and qualitative analysis were conducted to help interpret the data and inform curriculum decisions.

3.        Curriculum meetings were held with faculty, senior administration, and staff to examine the data, recommend, and help implement curriculum improvements at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Why This Project Matters

This project matters because it addresses the importance of implementing faculty-driven curriculum and instructional improvement initiatives that ensure business students are developing the knowledge, skills, and values that will help them succeed in a knowledge economy and global marketplace.

How This Project is Put into Action

This project has created greater awareness in terms of developing student learning, thinking, and communication skills and values (cross-curricular competencies as opposed to knowledge acquisition only).  Learning objectives that focus on critical or ethical thinking, for example, are now not only reflected in course content, but in formative and summative assessment practices and they are integrated across the curriculum.

Where to Learn More

Spiliotopoulos, V. & Kirstofferson, K. (forthcoming). Challenges, unintended consequences, and opportunities of assessment of learning in business education.

Spiliotopoulos, V. (2014, July).  Interdisciplinary professional learning communities: Integrating best practices in business and education to improve student learning. SFU Summer Institute : Professional Learning Communities, Vancouver, Canada

Spiliotopoulos, V. (2013, July). Outcomes Assessment in higher education: Leveraging Innovative tools to support global trends in educational quality assurance. International Perspectives on Technology-Enhanced Learning. (IPTEL), Vancouver, Canada.