Creating value-driven learning opportunities : a single case study exploring experiential learning company projects in a business education course.

Abstract

Didactic instructional strategies in undergraduate business programs are inadequate to meet the challenges of the new global marketplace. A Society for Human Resource Management report (2019) showed that higher education institutions need to address the global skills shortage. Due to a gap between what business schools teach and what stakeholders need, employers are less confident in the skills of U.S. business school graduates. A report from the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges and Gallup (2020) reveals that only a small percentage of higher education trustees believe that U.S. graduates have the skills needed to compete effectively in the global workforce. A growing global workforce has made it necessary for institutions of higher learning to revise their instructional approaches to prepare students adequately. Experiential learning has emerged as a leading instructional strategy in business education to provide graduates with career-ready skills to enhance productivity and innovation in the workforce. This single case study explored how students describe experiential learning company projects as an instructional strategy in an undergraduate business education course and their perceived impact on developing career-ready skill sets. This qualitative investigation with three undergraduate students used data from reflection journals, in-classroom observations, and semi-structured interviews. Using Kolb’s (1984) experiential learning theory as the theoretical framework, the research answered questions about how students described the influence of experiential learning company projects in enhancing career readiness and how they described the differences between business courses with embedded real-world company projects and courses without such projects to enhance professional career development.

The findings of the qualitative investigation described the experiences of students participating in experiential learning company projects. The findings revealed student perceptions of the experiential learning company project as contributory to their ability to enhance 21st century career-ready skill sets for entry into the workforce. The findings also indicated students’ positive perceptions on the integration of company projects into the business classroom to help develop and improve upon essential career-ready skill sets. This study offers undergraduate business educators pertinent information regarding the value of integrating experiential learning company projects into the classroom for improving students’ career readiness.

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