Analysis of post-secondary business communication courses for cooperative learning practices
Hargrave, William Dorner
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This study examined four aspects of a core course in business school curricula: (1) the mission and standards of the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB); (2) the mission statements of 40 schools and colleges of business (COB); (3) the syllabi for business communication courses at those schools; and (4) the instructor’s manuals for four textbooks used in those courses. The study purported to determine to what extent those aspects recommend and support the pedagogy of cooperative learning. The study examined static artifacts of each of the four aspects using computer-assisted text analysis (CATA). That mode of investigation was used to avoid the socially acceptable answers that are sometimes provided to surveys and interviews. The AACSB mission and standards as well as the COB mission standards were available online at their various websites. Electronic versions of the syllabi were solicited by email from the instructors. The instructor’s manuals were provided by the textbook publishers to a neutral third party. The lens for the investigation was Roger and David Johnson’s statement of the elements of cooperative learning: positive interdependence; individual accountability; group processing; social skills; and face-to-face interaction. Those elements are known collectively as PIGSFACE. The PIGSFACE elements provided the framework for the coding used in the CATA examination. The CATA program used AntConc 3.2.1, a program developed by Laurence Anthony, which revealed the presence of the keywords of coding and the surrounding context. The context enabled investigation to determine if the use of a keyword was actually indicative of the underlying action, principle, or sentiment. The analysis revealed that AACSB espouses inculcation of teamwork and recommends certain aspects of social skills that encourage teamwork. Only 40% of the COB mission statements include inculcation of teamwork, but 70% mentioned social skills that support the goal. Positive interdependence, the primary nominative aspect of cooperative learning, was present in 92.5% of the syllabi. Other aspects were found – ranging from 95% mentioning aspects of individual accountability to 32.5% mentioning face-to-face interaction. All of the instructor’s manuals included recommendation of the PIGSFACE elements to various degrees.