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Annual NTF Symposia

Co-constructed SME business curriculum research presentation at the ANTF symposium 2023

Dr David Gordon, Prof Peter Stokes, Dr Martin Beckinsale (Leadership, Management, and Marketing department) De Montfort University, Leicester 

It was my first attendance at an Association of National Teaching Fellows (ANTF) symposium and gave me the opportunity to network with like-minded colleagues from other universities and share ideas on teaching and learning. Over two days I met some great minds and it gave me tremendous inspiration and innovative ideas on my own teaching practice. Academics from a whole spectrum of research areas presented and discussed pioneering concepts on teaching in Higher Education (HE).  

My own contribution was on the formation of HE curricula with businesses, based on my own 27 years in business and 26 years in HE. It explored whether an enhanced, employability-relevant higher education experience can be gained for business students, through a co-created UK-based curriculum between a small and medium-size enterprise, and a university.  

All areas of commerce have changed significantly over the past decade, with technology influencing the operational and managerial landscape. Organisations expect business graduates to have leading-edge knowledge in this area, but current undergraduate business curricula lack the teaching of technology approaches and corresponding tools, and the granularity needed for modern business (and specifically marketing) practices. Importantly, as more graduates move towards employment in a sub-250-person organisation, a structured graduate programme (common to larger corporations) is absent and replaced with the expectation of immediate knowledge and ability to create value. Given the gap between extant business/marketing curricula and small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) contexts the presentation discussed the scope for a collaborative co-creative process of understanding and construction.  

The presentation was based on recent research, and informed by the literature on Experiential learning, Authentic assessment, Stakeholder Theory, Generational Theory, and marketing curricula. A social constructivist approach was taken to qualitative research, with business graduates, employers, and lecturers. 

I presented four areas where HE business/marketing education could be revolutionised;  

1. Ubiquitous Business Engagement – a synthesised, harmonised, constant interaction with commerce;  

2. Multi-effective co-created curricula – a solid theoretical curriculum foundation, with an immersive content from business;  

3. Placement Year Substitute Experience – a replacement (proxy) for experiential student placement years, providing theory into practice;  

4. Generational Expectation and business Technology Impacts – an immersive technology experience for today’s (Gen Z) and tomorrow’s students. 

The presentation summarised how a co-constructed HE business curriculum will ensure students have a conceptual underpinning, are pragmatic, and have an instantly applicable value set. It will be attractive to prospective students, benefit student recruitment, and be valuable to future marketing employers with the knowledge that students can quickly provide value in a reflective manner in SME contexts. A number of questions from the audience were generated, focusing on the operational construct of my ideas, the practical implications of such a dynamic subject, and the potential for stimulating student engagement and attendance. 

Image: Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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