Approximately 40 percent of all University of Oregon graduates take BA 101: Intro to Business at the Lundquist College of Business, according to one of the course's instructors, Dave Dusseau. That's nearly 2,500 students per year that complete the course, ranking it consistently among the courses with the highest enrollment in the state of Oregon.
The reason for the course's success is obvious when one visits a class. There's a lively din as student teams huddle to solve business problems related to product design, marketing, budgeting, financing, investment, and distribution processes that real businesses confront every day.
"We've dropped the textbook and lecture, and adopted simulation and team exercises," explained Dusseau, who is the Donald A. Tykeson Senior Instructor of Business. Adjunct Instructor Doug Wilson also teaches several sections of the course.
The course is structured in such a way that students are evaluated on how well they "operate" an electronic sensor manufacturing company via a business simulation software package (similar to SimCity for business). Dusseau and Wilson introduce students to business and economic concepts through readings and assignments. Then, during class, students complete team exercises with the goal of building their understanding of those concepts by applying them to hypothetical business situations. These in-class exercises prepare students for circumstances they will confront while "managing" their virtual electronic sensor manufacturing firms, which each student is required to run individually outside of class.
Through hands-on exercises applying business concepts, the course illustrates how the Lundquist College of Business emphasizes experiential education learning by doing from the very beginning of its undergraduate curriculum.
"I found the course to be very beneficial based on the computer-based business simulation exercises, teaching strategy, and organization of homework. These three factors together helped me efficiently and effectively learn the skills I will need in future business courses as well as in my future profession," said Daniel Raven '08.
Because the course caters to business minors and fulfills a university general education requirement, it also fosters an integrated educational experience that benefits business students as well as undergraduates from other disciplines.
"The process of working in teams is what is critical," noted Dusseau, who emphasized that the hands-on nature of the course builds communication, leadership, and teamwork skills, exposing business students to the interconnectedness among disciplines. Such exercises also prepare students to collaborate with people from diverse educational backgrounds on an everyday real-world business occurrence.
"The course helps students understand how decisions are made inside a business, how those decisions influence their lives as consumers, as owners, as employees, and as citizens in a society largely shaped by its economic character," said Dusseau.
It's that type of education that ensures Lundquist College of Business students will be able to go anywhere and do anything, preparing them for a lifetime of new and exciting opportunities in their future careers.