Findings From an Examination of a Class Purposed to Teach the Scientific Method Applied to the Business Discipline

Nicole A. Buzzetto-Hollywood
Issues in Informing Science and Information Technology  •  Volume 18  •  2021  •  pp. 161-172
Aim/Purpose: This brief paper will provide preliminary insight into an institutions effort to help students understand the application of the scientific method as it applies to the business discipline through the creation of a dedicated, required course added to the curriculum of a mid-Atlantic minority-serving institution. In or-der to determine whether the under-consideration course satisfies designated student learning outcomes, an assessment regime was initiated that included examination of rubric data as well as the administration of a student perception survey. This paper summarizes the results of the early examination of the efficacy of the course under consideration.

Background: A small, minority-serving, university located in the United States conducted an assessment and determined that students entering a department of business following completion of their general education science requirements had difficulties transferring their understanding of the scientific method to the business discipline. Accordingly, the department decided to create a unique course offered to sophomore standing students titled Principles of Scientific Methods in Business. The course was created by a group of faculty with input from a twenty person department.

Methodology: Rubrics used to assess a course term project were collected and analyzed in Microsoft Excel to measure student satisfaction of learning goals and a student satisfaction survey was developed and administered to students enrolled in the course under consideration to measure perceived course value.

Contribution: While the scientific method applies across the business and information disciplines, students often struggle to envision this application. This paper explores the implications of a course specifically purposed to engender the development and usage of logical and scientific reasoning skills in the business discipline by students in the lower level of an bachelors degree program.
The information conveyed in this paper hopefully makes a contribution in an area where there is still an insufficient body of research and where additional exploration is needed.

Findings: For two semesters rubrics were collected and analyzed representing the inclusion of 53 students. The target mean for the rubric was a 2.8 and the overall achieved mean was a 2.97, indicating that student performance met minimal expectations. Nevertheless, student deficiencies in three crucial areas were identified.

According to the survey findings, as a result of the class students had a better understanding of the scientific method as it applies to the business discipline, are now better able to critically assess a problem, feel they can formulate a procedure to solve a problem, can test a problem-solving process, have a better understanding of how to formulate potential business solutions, understand how potential solutions are evaluated, and understand how business decisions are evaluated.

Conclusion: Following careful consideration and discussion of the preliminary findings, the course under consideration was significantly enhanced. The changes were implemented in the fall of 2020 and initial data collected in the spring of 2021 is indicating measured improvement in student success as exhibited by higher rubric scores.

Recommendations for Practitioners: These initial findings are promising and while considering student success, especially as we increasingly face a greater and greater portion of under-prepared students entering higher education, initiatives to build the higher order thinking skills of students via transdisciplinary courses may play an important role in the future of higher education.

Recommendations for Researchers: Additional studies of transdisciplinary efforts to improve student outcomes need to be explored through collection and evaluation of rubrics used to assess student learning as well as by measuring student perception of the efficacy of these efforts.

Impact on Society: Society needs more graduates who leave universities ready to solve problems critically, strategically, and with scientific reasoning.

Future Research: This study was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic; however, it is resuming in late 2021 and it is the hope that a robust and detailed paper, with more expansive findings will eventually be generated.
first generation college students, transdisciplinary education, scientific method in the business discipline, scientific reasoning in management education, scientific literacy, management education, business education, rubric, student learning outcomes, assessment of student learning, HBCU
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