A DIFFERENT TAKE ON TEACHING BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION FOR BUSINESS INFORMATICS STUDENTS: "MASTERING THE BASICS TO STRIVE FOR EXCELLENCE"

T. Dilger, T. Spieß

MCI Management Center Innsbruck (AUSTRIA)
Many of you may remember the first time during your studies when you opened your first book and began to study it. Although you were motivated, the overall understanding was lacking and the question came to mind, "What do I need this for anyway?"

The starting point for us was quite clear. The findings from the evaluation and the personal conversations with the students showed that especially a basic subject like business administration for business informatics students (beginning of first semester) per se did not yet offer an obvious application possibility. The students worked on the material under guidance, but motivation and above all the longevity of the knowledge often quickly fell victim to the forgetting curve. As lecturers, we took over this course and started to adapt this basic subject, to use knowledge in the sense of a lived feedback culture and thus to be able to continuously improve the learning experience. Consequently, it was challenging for us to align the contents of business administration with the interdisciplinary culture of our study program at the interface of informatics, management and communication science.

An integrative course was designed to meet various challenges that emerged from the experience gained over the duration of the course on the one hand and from the students’ feedbacks on the other hand.

These challenges mainly related to:
(1) different previous experiences with IT or business administration contents,
(2) lack of practical experience for some students
(3) need for quality assurance and excellence through integrated consideration of IT and business administration content throughout the study program.

Therefore, we developed the idea to have the students work on integrative business plans as part of the course in the first semester already. The aim is to enable students to gain their own integrative practical experience early on in their studies, so that they can more easily classify and build on the learning experiences in the further course of their studies.

Above all, the interdisciplinary composition of the teaching team was important to us - on the one hand based on the subject areas - but also the practical experience, which is particularly important for an organization offering applied university courses. Therefore, the team consists of internal faculty as well as an experienced management consultant, start-up founder and coach. In six blocks, the students receive input on various topics relevant to the business plan and are accompanied by the lecturers through constant feedback blocks. For this, the lecturers must work together throughout the semester. The lecturers also assess the course together in a comprehensive predefined way using different quality gates.

The first cohort since the switch is now about to graduate. The evaluation of results made possible by this speaks for the success of the project.