Andrea Chareunsy, convenor of ECON381 (Current issues in Economics) and winner of the Faculty of Business and Economics Dean’s Awards for Curriculum Innovation joins us in Episode 3 of the 4 part series. Previous posts on Program Leadership: Lawrence Ang and Curriculum Innovation: Steve Erichsen can be found here too.
ECON381 is very well placed for all the innovative practices Andrea applies. It is not only the capstone, but also the PACE unit for the students. In the last year, Andrea has rebuilt the unit to run it as a consulting firm.
The basics of this very novel unit are as below
All the students are divided into teams based on their discipline strengths and a project manager is assigned. These teams (or consulting groups as they are called) are given problems/ issues by the PACE partner firms. The idea is for the students to work as a team, draw on each others expertise and present a final recommendation to the corporate partner.
The entire unit hinges on this one project. All graduate capabilities feed into it. All assessments are designed around it.
The specific assessments Andrea uses are:
Individual case study essays: Students need to write 2 essays – one focussing on ethical and economic considerations, and the other focusing on the economic issues in the broader environment of industry of the partner firm. Both these essays emphasise critical and analytical thinking. As part of the assessment, students also critique each other’s essays. “It teaches them to be self aware, and compare themselves to others,” says Andrea, “and broadens their horizons.”
Reflections: There are 6 reflection pieces required of the students – 4 written and 2 oral. While the reflections are based on the project they are working on, the students need to reflect on how they are working through it. It is about their experiences and ruminations on the team and their teammates. The aim of these reflections is for the students to critically reflect on their learning throughout the sessions in various forms.
Presentations and report: As part of the main project, students do 2 presentations and submit a report. This is a critical evaluation of the issues presented to them and a recommendation/proposal for the industry partner. For the final presentation, the top 5 teams are selected to present in front of the PACE industry partner. This is a great opportunity for the students and makes them slightly more competitive.
Andrea admits that the students find the unit (and all the assessments) quite challenging but they still love it! There are no textbooks involved, and no final exams. It is a very ‘applied’ unit that helps build presentation skills, group work, professionalism and work ethics. Exactly the stuff Deans Awards List is made of!