Innovative course design receives international accolades

A Goodman professor’s innovative approach to experiential learning has earned him top honours from a leading North American marketing association.

Kai-Yu Wang, Chair of Goodman’s Marketing, International Business and Strategy Department, recently received the AxcessCapon Teaching Innovation Award at the Marketing Management Association’s Fall Educators’ Conference.

Each year, the association takes submissions from across North America on innovative approaches to teaching and chooses the top three proposals to present at the conference for a chance to win the $1,000 prize.

In the award’s eight-year history, this marked the first time a Canadian instructor has received the honour. For Goodman Dean Andrew Gaudes, the award reflects the dedication that Wang puts into his work.

“Kai-Yu has been an excellent representative of the Goodman School of Business, elevating our profile in research and now teaching,” said Gaudes. “He’s a shining example of a well-rounded Chair and faculty member, contributing highly in teaching, research and service.”

Wang’s presentation at the conference shared how he designed his Internet and Social Media Marketing course to provide students with hands-on experience in the constantly changing field by partnering them with community organizations.

“For the past seven years, I’ve used service-learning projects in all of my courses,” Wang said. “I want students to know that the knowledge, concepts and theory they learn can be applied to the business world and marketing activities.”

Previously, students in the course would propose a plan for a community partner that would enhance their website design, search engine marketing, search engine optimization or social media marketing. Wang found that coming up with only a plan was not very practical.

So, for the Winter 2018 section of the course, he applied for one of Brock’s Teaching and Learning Innovation Grants from the Centre for Pedological Innovation. Wang used the money he received to give each student group $300 to implement their plan and achieve real results for their community partner.

Fifth-year BBA student Ali Anees has participated in a number of service-learning projects during his time at Goodman, but using real money raised the stakes and impact of the hands-on exercise.

“This course held us responsible,” Anees said. “The ultimate responsibility was that the money had to be used in an ethical way when you allocated your budget and resources. You had to be answerable to the client and all of the allocations needed to be justified.”

When designing the course, Wang had three goals: to bring students experiential education, to increase Brock’s community involvement and to make sure community partners received practical benefits out of the project.

Now that the grant has ended, community partners are required to contribute a minimum of $100 towards the campaign and local organizations are scrambling to get involved. For the Fall 2018 course, there were 38 applications for the 12 partner spots available.

In his conference presentation, Wang gave the attendees and judges a six-step guide on how to implement his course design. Although the resource was specific to search engine marketing, it can easily be adapted for other marketing courses as well.

For instructors thinking about adding new experiential components into their course design, Wang says they should be willing to take some risks and have flexibility in their approach.

While the award may have recognized the course design, Anees said what really made the class stand out to him was the man teaching it.

“He’s an amazing professor,” said Anees. “He takes the interest of students into his own hands and is very generous with his time.”

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