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Freshmen Integrated Business Course a Foundation for Future Learning

May 10, 2013

ArcelorMittal Distinguished Lecturer Rex Cutshall

ArcelorMittal Distinguished Lecturer Rex Cutshall

Direct Admit Freshmen at the Kelley School of Business construct sustainable business plans in the new, integrated business course X170 “How Business Works”.  Available for the first time in fall 2012, this course introduces the multiple contexts of business functions to students in their first semester at Indiana University.

The course “How Business Works” benefits students by providing an early exposure to the components of business, including supply chain and operations management.  The connections made in “How Business Works” set a foundation for success in future integrated courses and a context for specialized courses.

ArcelorMittal Distinguished Lecturer Rex Cutshall and Clinical Associate Professor Carl Briggs, faculty members in the Department of Operations and Decision Technologies, collaborated with other Kelley faculty in the areas of marketing, finance and management to create the course.

“By using a case-based methodology, students are quickly immersed in the real world issues and problems faced by businesses,” explained Cutshall.

Clinical Associate Professor Carl Briggs

Clinical Associate Professor Carl Briggs

Compared to introductory courses that offer a descriptive lecture format, “How Business Works” is team-taught by functional experts and engages students by connecting the functions of business through relatable cases. 

Weekly classes run on a structured schedule; functional area instructors pinpoint the relevant pieces in a case and explore the individual marketing, finance, supply chain, and management functions.  Students analyze the pieces and relate the dimensions to the whole problem.  After a short deliverable presenting solutions to the case, students begin to develop their final project, step-by-step.

“Asking students to consider and apply the perspectives of the various business functions to a proposed business plan of the students’ design is reported as the most rewarding part of the course,” observed Briggs.

Student teams compete to present the best sustainable business plan in the final project.  Small groups are formed and ideas begin the first week of class.  After a few weeks, the teams present their ideas and the top three projects move on to the next round.  Students working on the projects not chosen are reassigned to the final groups. 

Students collaborating on their sustainable business plan

Students collaborating on their sustainable business plan

X170 has teamed up with a corporate sponsor, The Heritage Group (THG), to counsel and evaluate the team projects. Based in Indianapolis, THG manages a varied set of companies from different sectors, including highway construction and materials, energy sales, chemical refining, and environmental services. THG joined forces with the Kelley School of Business to bring the relevance of the real-world business into the classroom through the course. At the end of the semester, representatives from THG travel to Bloomington and judge the project competition.

THG representatives and scientists hold “office hours” online to answer students’ questions and interact regularly with students during class time.  Because of this interaction, students will be interning with THG during the summer between their freshmen and sophomore year.

Preview a case introduction written by the team of faculty teaching “How Business Works”

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