Updating PowerPoint for the new Business Classroom

Sabra E. Brock, Yogini Joglekar, Ayushi Tandon, Gena Bardwell
InSITE 2019  •  2019  •  pp. 353-369
Aim/Purpose: To update a 2010 study that recommended “rules of thumb” for more effective use of PowerPoint in the post-secondary business classroom. The current study expanded the focus to include the business classroom in India as well as the US and examined possible shifts in student perception of the utility of PowerPoint among Generations Y and Z.

Background: The study examined students’ perception of the learning utility of PowerPoint in post-secondary business classrooms in the US and India and the relationship of the use of PowerPoint to course ratings.

Methodology: Surveys were distributed in post-secondary business classrooms in India and the US in 2018 and early 2019, resulting in 92 completions from India and 127 from the US. Separately 50 student course evaluations from the same US college were compared to the use of slides as well as to their conformance to the “rules of thumb” for effectiveness established earlier and other measures of quality.

Contribution: These results show how PowerPoint is viewed by post-secondary business students in India and the US and its perceived utility as a learning tool for Generations Y and Z.

Findings: Most post-secondary business students (80%) found PowerPoint an effective learning tool, but only 21% of the business classes examined used it. US students were more positive than Indian ones, who were more likely to say PowerPoint is overused.
There was no difference in student course evaluations between those that had slides and those that did not. However, most of the slide decks examined did not follow the “rules of thumb,” exhibiting a much greater number of words per slide.
Generations Y and Z gave high ratings to slides that incorporated audiovisuals, mixed media, and special effects and said they learned more when they were the ones who created the slides. However, most students did not rate themselves as competent in creation of PowerPoint slides.

Recommendations for Practitioners: (1) Faculty should consider students’ positive reception of PowerPoint, their preference for adaptive, interactive learning that builds on strong multimedia elements while creating instructional materials.
(2) Faculty should receive prescriptive design instruction for incorporating PowerPoint best practices to cut back on their self-reported high time spent on slide creation and student-reported low technical competency in faculty instruction.
(3) Publishers should concentrate on slide design and innovativeness along with content coverage to serve faculty needs.
(4) Business curricula should take into account generational as well as cultural differences in learning preferences.
(5) To address the students’ conflation of personal social media prowess with superior technology or communication skills in the professional context, Business curricula should incorporate learning outcomes related to professional use of technology tools such as PowerPoint.

Recommendations for Researchers: There is still utility in old-fashioned paper questionnaires to assess what impacts student learning. There is also merit in comparing student course evaluations with various in-classroom treatments.

Impact on Society: PowerPoint may be underused in the post-secondary business classroom, but this paper raises questions about the value of unedited use of the very dense slides provided by publishers as effective learning tools in the post-secondary business classroom.

Future Research: Future research can be focused on the use of PowerPoint slides in the business classroom in other countries and cultures, as only the US and India were examined. Further examination needs to be made of the relationship between extensive and unedited use of publisher-provided slides and the reporting of the staggering statistics that most students are not now buying textbooks. Finally, this study did not touch on gender or socio-economic differences in the student demographics, which might open further avenues for investigation.
PowerPoint, post-secondary business classrooms, Generations Y and Z in the US and India
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