Integrating analytics into college-level business curriculum – across-the-board – is no simple task.
Such was the topic of a study by two Department of Marketing researchers who won an award for their work on integrating analytics into higher-education curricula in a way that will enable students to develop the analytical competencies necessary to succeed in today’s business world.
“Integrating Analytics into Marketing Curricula: Challenges and Effective Practices for Developing Six Critical Competencies” won the Best Paper Award from the Society for Marketing Advances, which publishes Marketing Education Review.
Marketing’s Danny Weathers, professor, and Oriana Aragon, assistant professor authored the paper that identified best practices in teaching marketing metrics and analytics.
“Whether it’s marketing, finance or economics, instructors have unique challenges in teaching analytics because many students have little experience with statistics,” Weathers said. “Twenty-first century business is requiring that analytics be integrated throughout the business disciplines and is something Dean (Wendy) York has deemed a competency that Clemson business students should have upon graduating.”
Dean of the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business, York has identified Business Analytics as one of the College’s Signature Programs, or business-critical competencies, necessary for 21st century business success.
“Business today is data-driven, so it’s important our students are equipped with relevant and functional business analytics competencies no matter their area of study,” she said. “Businesses are grasping analytics in making strategic decisions and our graduates must be proficient in understanding and utilizing analytics in order to achieve business success.”
Weathers and Aragon’s research emphasized the importance of students being exposed to a sequence of courses at the college level for them to become proficient at using data in business decision-making.
“Integrating analytics across all business disciplines needs to be looked at holistically and not on a department by department basis. In doing so, departments need to work together in addressing barriers that students may face in meeting college-level analytics curriculum requirements,” Weathers said.
The research paper identifies six competencies students need to become proficient in with analytics: (1) assessing data quality, (2) understanding measurement, (3) managing datasets, (4) analyzing data, (5) interpreting results, and (6) communicating results.
In developing those competencies, the paper also addresses potential barriers professors may face in teaching them.
“One of the challenges in this process is understanding what ‘analytics’ means across departments,” Weathers added. “While numbers may work the same across disciplines, how you use and analyze the numbers is not always the same, so there are discipline-specific aspects of analytics that does create some college-wide challenges.”
Whether a student decides on a career path in analytics, or they interact with data in managerial roles, analytics will influence how they perform their jobs, according to Weathers.
“Research has identified top skills employers desire in college graduates and among them are an ability to obtain and process information, analyzing quantitative data and proficiency in computer software programs,” Weathers said. “Those skills align nicely with the analytics competencies identified in our paper. It will be difficult to avoid analytics in the workplace, so it behooves institutions of higher learning to arm their graduates with the knowledge necessary to become proficient in analytics.”
Scott Baier, chair of the John E. Walker Department of Economics, is working with a committee that is examining ways to integrate analytics across all of the College’s disciplines. He concurs with Weathers’ and Aragon’s research findings in that college-level core classes are important in eliminating barriers students can face in meeting their curriculum requirements.
“Getting students exposure to analytics on a college versus departmental level is an important step and toward that end we are creating a series of videos students can use on their own to become familiar with analytics. This comprehensive set of videos is something professors can integrate into the classrooms also,” Baier said. “Beyond that, we’re looking at a several core courses that will give students a wide exposure to business analytics techniques.”
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