THE BENEFITS OF A COUNTRY CULTURE PROJECT IN AN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS COURSE
The rise of globalization has increased student interest in courses on International subjects. While business students show interest in specific areas (e.g., Global Marketing, Management of International Operations, Multinational Financial Management), non-business students have interest in foreign languages and more general courses (e.g., International Business). This paper is about implementing a Country Culture Project and Presentation in a sophomore level International Business course that meets the requirements of the University’s International Studies component of the Liberal Arts Core. For business majors, this counts as a non-business elective.
Students self-select teams of 3 to 4 and are assigned a country to conduct exploratory research of a cultural component or related component that is relevant for a U.S. company doing business in that country. The cultural components may include topics such as: manners and customs, values and attitudes, personal communications, etc. Beginning with the midterm of the semester, each team is assigned a date for their presentation and demonstration of this cultural component within a maximum of 15 minutes.
The grading rubric addresses: (1) quality of content, (2) depth of content, (3) experiential/involvement (show and tell), (4) preparation/organization/time management, (5) research references, (6) visual aids, (7) teamwork, and (8) handouts. The project is a presentation only and worth 100 points or about 20% if the overall course grade.
The presentations are often entertaining, fun, and break up the lecture monotony of the class. Due to high student interest in learning about different cultures from around the world, the motivation for completing the project and receiving positive student feedback is increased. In fact, the presentation grades are often higher than exam averages, thus improving individual course grade averages. As for grading, since it is a team project there are fewer projects to grade than with individual assignments, and the formalized grading rubric makes it quick and easy to grade and provide specific feedback to the students about their presentation.
To address student benefits, a questionnaire was given at the end of the semester in two sections of an International Business course. A small number of bonus points were given to those whom properly completed the questionnaire by the deadline. A self-reported questionnaire addressed the benefits of the team project presentation and included questions concerning the development of skills (i.e., teamwork, communication, research, creativity, and technology), and learning (i.e., something interesting, real-world, challenging, fun, from other students, apply what is learned from the class, better understand different cultures of the world).
A preliminary and exploratory analysis of the responses from 55 students revealed that on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree), the highest rated benefits with an average of 6 or higher involved: learn about something interesting, learn about something real-world, better understand the importance of global business, better understand the different cultures of the world, have fun seeing other team presentations, get to know other students from the class, and learn from other students. All questions involving skills, with the exception of technology skills, averaged between 5 and 6.