Most faculty view assessment as a chore to be accomplished with the least amount of effort or involvement. The business faculty at the University of Northern Iowa approach things a little differently, so when I say this research was motivated by the assessment process, I mean that in all the right ways. The authors were selected for the team because our courses included writing or communication instruction, so right off the bat we were interested in doing research that would enhance our own classroom experience. Besides that, conducting research that has an impact in the classroom is valuable in the College’s AACSB accreditation process, so we knew that our work would be recognized and rewarded. Finally, with our integrated assessment and curriculum process, we knew that our results couldn’t just be tossed aside. Our shared governance model ensures that when faculty discover a need for curriculum change, instructional resources, or professional development, administration will address the challenges constructively. With good processes in place, we were motivated to conduct rigorous, cutting edge research on our communication learning goals.
In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?
Our innovation was avoiding the traditional, academic mindset and embracing the employer’s perspective with a customer-oriented methodology for evaluating quality in service industries. We’ve used the model several times, but this was the first time with communication skills. So, our first step was to review the previous research on business students’ communication skills. The glaring issue was the on-going nature of employer complaints about lack of student preparation, which struck us as precisely the sort of problem that service companies face when they lack a good understanding of customers’ expectations. So, our real contribution was that we took the crucial step of finding out what communication behaviors our graduates are really expected to perform. We didn’t just define the perfect communication education from our academic mindset—which is rather like a professional chef defining the perfect dining experience based on his or her own whims and preferences. Some elite chefs can afford to run tiny exclusive restaurants, but as a public university, we can’t afford to provide education that serves only employers who just happen to need the skill set that we envision as perfect preparation. Instead, we asked a range of business employers what educational service they actually expect us to provide. The menu turned out to be quite different from what we’d been serving!
What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?
This is no different from any other field of study: be sure you find out what’s already been done and build on that! Business professionals regularly call for educators to do a “better” job of educating students in communication, but this doesn’t mean that educators haven’t been working on the problem! In fact, the first attempts to design a professionally relevant curriculum date back to the 1840’s. It’s a complex problem with a long history of research. There’s no sense in repeating work that’s already been done, and plenty of important research questions that still need to be answered.
I was motivated to pursue the work behind “Artist Communication: An Interdisciplinary Business and Professional Communication Course” because I had an opportunity to design an interdisciplinary course. My professional background in arts and my current research and teaching interests in communication made a course on the professional communication of artists an easy fit. Many universities are moving toward interdisciplinary initiatives, so I thought that writing an article about the experience of developing and running this interdisciplinary course could be a strong contribution to the literature on interdisciplinary pedagogy.
The most challenging aspects of running this course and writing this article were in the interdisciplinary nature of it. I had to decide how to foreground the concepts of business communication while maintaining a focus on the artist’s work. This was not an art appreciation course, nor was it a strict business communication course. Instead, it was a course that blended the arts, business, and communication. This meant that some things I would definitely include in a more discipline-oriented course didn’t appear, such as reports. Things that I generally wouldn’t have included in a business communication course, such as press photos, became whole assignments of their own.
One good example of this interdisciplinary blend was an in-class assignment about playlists that I wasn’t able to mention in the larger article. I wanted students to understand streaming services as part of an artist’s career. To do this, I had my students create playlists on a streaming service that told a story. Students had a great deal of fun playing around with playlists and sharing them with each other. This interaction allowed students to see streaming services as a unique way to communicate (via playlists) and as a tool that musicians needed to use to distribute their music effectively. Drawing on that second point, I was then able to have a discussion about the career economics of music and the communication genres that artists engage in as part of their career-development process.
I hope this article begins to fill a gap in literature on the communication work that artists do. Not much work has been done in research or pedagogy on artist communication, and much of the research that has been done is housed in the field of Arts Entrepreneurship. Business communication does not have much in the way of literature on artist communication, despite the large amount of business and professional communication that artists must do. As a result, this article sits in a specific interdisciplinary space of artist communication. I hope that others will take up the interdisciplinary interest in the professional communication of artists.
In the UK it is increasingly common for postgraduate students of marketing to be recruited from across the globe, and in particular from notionally “developing” economies such as India and China. This practice raises questions across a variety of issues; it can smuggle discourses of subalternaity into the classroom, it can construct marketing education as an agent of globalisation, it can undermine commitments to maintaining criticality in our subject areas, it can result in all manners of pedagogical challenges, it can raise huge amounts of money for universities and re-constitute marketing education as an object for export. To my mind, these are issues that get to the heart of marketing education in an age of ever-increasing commercialisation of universities and general neo-liberalism.
To explore the phenomenon, myself and Mark invited a group of inter-disciplinary scholars for a roundtable discussion in Royal Holloway, University of London. We asked the participants to construct short statements outlining their positions and together they form, I hope readers will agree, a series of fascinating accounts and analyses about marketing education not just as a subject for teaching and learning, but also as a product for export at a time of globalisation, neo-liberalism and political-economic transformations.
We hope that this commentary will be of interest to anybody who teaches or learns marketing as well as a broader audience who are interested in political economy, globalisation and the role of the university
Small Group Research has announced a Call for Papers for an upcoming Special Issue on the theme of “Pedagogy.”
“Have you developed innovative methods for teaching a course (undergraduate or graduate) on small groups? Small Group Research is planning a special issue containing articles describing such methods and discussing some of the pedagogical issues that can arise in courses of this sort. Note that this issue is not about the use of small groups in courses on other topics. Instead, its focus is on courses about small groups; the methods used to teach such courses might or might not involve group activities.
Although we welcome all submissions, we are especially eager to see empirical papers that include some assessment of how effective your methods were to teaching students about groups.
If you are interested in publishing an article in this special issue, then the first step is to send a brief summary (no more than five pages long, typewritten and double-spaced) to Dr. Richard Moreland, SGR Associate Editor, Department of Psychology, 3103 Sennott Square, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA. 15260. All summaries should be sent no later than December 31st, 2011. Dr. Moreland will read each summary and identify (in consultation with other members of the journal’s editorial staff) the best submissions. He will then work with the authors of those submissions to produce the articles themselves, which should be ready for publication in early 2013. The final articles may range in length from 20 to 35 pages.”
If you have any questions about the special issue, then please feel free to contact Dr. Moreland at email@example.com.
For more information on Small Group Research, please click here.