Engaging business students in quantitative skills development

Cronin, Anthony and Carroll, Paula (2015) Engaging business students in quantitative skills development. e-Journal of Business Education and Scholarship of Teaching, 9 (1). pp. 119-131.


The restructuring of undergraduate business degree programmes at University College Dublin, Ireland in 2011 identified quantitative and analytical skills as central to the holistic education of business students. One key aim was to foster sound decision-making practices based on data analysis and this skill was viewed as essential to the business leaders of the future. In this article the complex problems of developing quantitative and analytical skills in undergraduate first year, first semester business students are addressed. An action research project, detailing how first year business students perceive the relevance of data analysis and inferential statistics in light of the economic downturn and the challenges society faces is discussed. Students' attitudes were evaluated via an online survey consisting of both quantitative and qualitative responses. While two thirds of respondents do acknowledge the relevance of such a course for future business roles, it is shown that more work must be done to distinguish between why data analysis is relevant and how data analysis is performed. Also discussed are findings related to student learning, their intellectual development, and their motivation and expectations upon enrolling on the 'Data Analysis for Decision Makers (DADM)' module. The challenges in teaching such a mandatory module to Business students are discussed and a pedagogical framework for promoting deeper student engagement through active learning, regular continuous assessment and technology are also examined. [Author abstract, ed]

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