This is one in a series of stories highlighting projects supported by Brock’s Academic Initiatives Fund (AIF), which was established by the University in spring 2021. AIF projects will address key priorities outlined in Brock’s Institutional Strategic Plan and position the University to face the challenges of recovery from the pandemic. Other stories in the AIF series are available at this link.
Two Goodman projects aimed to help students apply their classroom knowledge in real-world scenarios were launched this year thanks to funding support from Brock’s Academic Initiatives Fund (AIF).
The AIF program enabled the creation of a case writing teaching and learning centre and supported a post-graduate work initiative out of the Centre for Business Analytics (CBA). The projects were part of a larger Brock initiative to address priorities in Brock’s strategic plan or that help in the University’s pandemic recovery.
Case writing and teaching learning centre
Associate Professor of Marketing Eric Dolansky led the development of the case writing teaching and learning centre. Over the academic year, a case writing group of 25 faculty, staff and students formed. They attended sessions that covered various aspects of case writing followed by a roundtable where everyone who was developing a case could workshop it.
“What I’m hoping for is to build a community of case writers at Brock, whether it’s for their own use or publications,” Dolansky says.
He says case learning is beneficial because it focuses more on process than content, allowing students to take the information they know and apply it through analysis to become more effective decision-makers.
“It’s like going to the gym. You need to get a certain number of reps in so you can see the benefit,” he says. “If you don’t practise, you aren’t going to be ready for the big game. It’s the same idea — that cases are about learning how to do things better through practice.”
The inaugural Case Combat competition hosted through the initiative wrapped up in April with a fully subscribed roster of graduate and undergraduate competitors addressing a case with an equity, diversity and inclusion theme.
“Cases are the focus of my research and teaching, and I hope my enthusiasm is contagious and helps students engage in the topic more,” Dolansky says.
Centre for Business Analytics post-graduate work initiative
Preparing students so they are ready to apply their data analytics skills in the workplace was the focus of an AIF project led by Anteneh Ayanso, Professor of Information Systems and CBA Director. CBA brought on longtime industry partner Robert Lytle, CEO of rel8ted.to Analytics, to help design a program that complements students’ classroom training with innovative learning and apprentice opportunities.
The CBA and rel8ted.to worked with both Goodman Group and Brock’s Co-op Career and Experiential Education (CCEE) department to facilitate the program.
“It’s like an apprenticeship program to enhance program training in business analytics, giving students exposure to work-related skills that organizations are asking for,” Ayanso says.
With analytics being such a dynamic field characterized by rapid changes in industry practices, giving students the chance to gain experience with using in-demand software programs and tools with real data was important.
The first aspect of the program was the Robot Training Academy. This gave students access to short skills training modules that grant a certification, which will help with applying for jobs in the field. Three students who excelled in the training were identified and offered a co-op position.
Master of Business Administration analytics students Vega Yu, Mohit Verma and Rahul Kumar were chosen to work on community projects that needed data analysis work done. The students worked on real-world projects with Goodman’s accreditation team, data analytics projects with a global IT research and consultancy firm and completed projects for a global media and events company.
“Everyone has a data analytics need. We didn’t have the capacity to address those before,” Ayanso says. “This program helps to address a community need that was there for a long period of time.”
For Ayanso, the program was about expanding the professional designations available to students and providing hands-on experience in the field that students could leverage into launching their careers after graduation. The concept proved popular, with 50 students participating in the initial offering. Prior collaborations between the CBA and rel8ed.to include Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and Ontario Centres of Excellence funded projects.