*This submission features the work of Carlos Brocatto but is part of a joint submission developed by a three-person team, as reflected in the citation above.*
The assignments link three courses at Middlesex Community College: (BUS 110 “Introduction to Business” and BUS 210 “Principles of Management”) in the Business Administration Department and a course (ETH 102 “Business Ethics”) in the Philosophy, Humanities and World Languages Department. The linked assignments challenge students to synthesize and present interpretive analysis on information gathered on business practices and their relation to various social bodies, their impact on economic and political policy and the environment at large. They further call for students to consider the ethical implications of business practices through their political, environmental, economic and global impact. As such the assignments assesses DQP proficiency in Intellectual Skills, Specialized Knowledge and Civic and Global Learning.
Background and Context
The “Business Administration and Business Ethics Linked Assignments” were created as a series of final projects for freshmen and sophomore students enrolled in the Business Administration Program at Middlesex Community College. The linked assignments are in keeping with the preferred program pathway courses in the college’s Business Administration Associates of Science Degree Program. The background and context for each linked assignment is course specific and provided below.
BUS 110 “Introduction to Business”
The “Business Leadership Research Assignment” is used in the 100 level Introduction to Business course. This summative assignment introduces students to the research and writing process from thesis development to outline to multiple drafts in order to demonstrate students’ understanding of the principles and concepts of the business environment and how to apply them within the context of a successful business leader. Therefore, the research paper is completed in multiple stages culminating in the final paper and oral presentation as students’ final exam project.
BUS 210 “Principles of Management”
The “Global Management Assignment” is summative and is used in the 200 level Principles of Management course. This summative assignment enables the students to demonstrate their breadth and depth of knowledge and understanding about how to apply management principles to a practical situation they are likely to encounter in the organizational environment. Thus, it is completed and presented at the end of the course.
ETH 102 “Business Ethics”
The “Ethics in Business Practices” assignment is the summative group project in the college’s only section of Business Ethics. Students produce analyses of individual real-world case studies that identify and synthesize a common ethical issue facing the business world. Students will present their work including their reflections on their discoveries through the use of a video diary entry. The assignment also calls upon students to isolate and explain the effects of specific business practices in their selected case studies while working with peers to produce practical prescriptions for ethical courses of action regarding the group’s identified ethical issue.
Alignment and Scaffolding
The linked assignments build on earlier work as students advance through the Business Administration Program. Various aspects of the linked assignments connect a student’s understanding of course concepts by introducing context and how the concepts are related to their possible future business goals. The assignments are scaffolded within their respective course contexts and require students to further develop their understanding of how to apply new-found skills and information in an effective and responsible manner.
What is more, the assignments are scaffolded between courses. That is to say that the linked assignments build on one another so that students recognize connections between concepts in varying contexts. They may, for example, grapple with the decision making process employed in a case study encountered in the Business Ethics course assignment only to find that that process can be contrasted with the decision making process of a “Business Leader” in the Introduction to Business course. What is more, the student may further compare the outcome of such practices to practices on a global scale.
Students will find the linked assignments challenging when engaged in the research, writing and presentation processes imbedded in all of the assignments. They will also be challenged by complex issues related to global business practices, foreign and domestic business management and leadership practices, and the ethics and social responsibility involved in organizational life. Students will learn to meet such challenges insofar as the skills required to meet them are the focus of the assignments and what ultimately links them together. It is what allows for students to practice targeted skillsets from the Degree Qualifications Profile, specifically Intellectual Skills, Specialized Knowledge and Civic and Global Learning, as they progress through these scaffolded assignments embedded in the program.
Experiences with these linked assignments vary. The “Business Leadership Research Assignment” was developed and employed in the spring of 2015. The assignment has been modified to provide students with more writing support and now makes use of library visits as a requirement prior to the students submitting their finished product. After implementing recommendations from the NILOA Assignment-Design Charrette, students’ writing improved significantly, and reflected a greater depth of critical thought and self-reflection than in previous semesters. Through a more guided approach, the strategies of providing shorter assignments on a weekly basis, and the ongoing peer review of student work proved to be very beneficial. Through these weekly reflection assignments, students were able to repeatedly examine the successful principles of their leader at a deeper level, and make meaningful connections to their own lives. It further scaffolded the assignment as work that is constructed and improved throughout the semester.
The “Global Management Assignment” was also developed and utilized during the spring 2015 semester. The experience revealed the challenges students will have to overcome to be successful; moreover, it presented an opportunity for modification for the sake of clarity regarding expectations for successful finished products. Recommendations from the NILOA Assignment-Design Charrette addressed writing requirements and refined the rubric for assessing student work. The revised assignment was employed to great improvement overall. These improvements were measurable through the rubric provided, but it should be noted that the revised assignment yielded student engagement at a new level. That is to say students took note of the rubric and asked pointed questions that directly led them to meet the assignment’s expectations.
The “Ethics in Business Practices” assignment was originally developed as a result of the invitation to participate in NILOA’s linked assignment project and was employed for the first time in the college’s Business Ethics course shortly after the charrette to great success. The work produced by students has served as exemplary models for what students engaged with course materials can achieve. The assignment has also been shared with faculty in the Philosophy, Humanities and World Languages Department for modification and employment in various courses. Participation in NILOA’s assignment-design charrette produced the impetus required for the final result–a result the instructor is pleased with.
The linked assignments have produced positive results across all three courses. The instructors are especially pleased with the reflective aspects of the assignments that allow for students to recognize connections between all three courses. The high quality of student work that has been produced is an indicator that the assignments have met the targeted goals embedded in each assignment. These successful results are attributed to the review process and contributions made available at the charrette.
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