Using Experience-Based Learning to Enhance Student Success: Step 1 - Exploratory Research to Identify Discipline-Specific Competencies

Kaylee M. Philbrick, Kiersten M. Maryott, Ronald A. Magnuson


This research identifies discipline specific competencies for six major areas of study in undergraduate business programs: Accounting, Business Information Systems, Finance, Human Resource Management, Marketing, and Supply Chain Management. Initially, we intended to investigate how experience based learning approaches could be used to close the gaps between the skills that employers desire and the skills that students possess upon graduation. However, we quickly discovered two things: 1) not only was there a lack of research on gaps between discipline specific skills that employers desire and what skills students possess, 2) there does not seem to be a clear and consistent understanding of the common discipline specific competencies that employers actually desire in undergraduate business students. There has been plenty of research on “soft” skills and generic hard skills, but nothing (that we could find) on discipline specific competencies. It begs the question: how are business schools supposed to prepare students if it isn’t clear what employers actually want? Furthermore, from a student’s perspective: how can they hope to satisfy their future employer if they don’t know what employers want? In addition to discussing the motivation for this research, we discuss our methodology, results, and future directions for our research.

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