January 27, 2014

New AEM Course ‘Created From The Ground Up’ by Professor, Students

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By SLOANE GRINSPOON

A new Applied Economics and Management course offered this semester — AEM 2700: Management Commun­ication — was designed from scratch by Prof. Kathy Berggren B.S. ’90, M.A.T. ’93, communication, and seven of her former students.

Berggren, who previously taught and directed Communication 2010: Oral Communication, was offered the new teaching position in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management last spring, with the task of designing an introductory Dyson class in management and communication that would incorporate both writing and speaking principles.

The new course looks to focus on business management communication techniques, according to Berggren.

“I looked at hundreds of syllabi of management communication courses and many business communication textbooks to get any idea of what is out there,” Berggren said. “Nothing really spoke to me. So then, I thought, I want to do this from scratch — an original course created from the ground up.”

The seven students who helped design the course consisted of current juniors and seniors in the Dyson School who had taken and been teaching assistants in Communication 2010, Berggren said.

Last semester, they participated in a 3-credit independent study to develop the course. Each Friday morning, Berggren and the students would meet to collaboratively develop the course based off her vision for the course and the student’s experiences in the business world, Berggren said.

The course was divided into three different modules — individual business skills, audiences and group skills.

Thea Dickson ‘14, one of the seven students who helped Berggren develop the course, said she believes having student involvement in the course was valuable.

“I think that as a whole, the course would not be what it was without both student and faculty input, as the students were able to use their past experiences in internships to give real-world needs that the course could help fulfill for freshman as they enter the Dyson school and the business world,” Dickson said.

Berggren said that her experience with Communication 2010 helped her see how valuable student input and participation in a course can be.

“I’ve seen how powerful collaboration with undergraduate teaching assistants is in teaching courses, in critiquing courses, in peer teaching of students, in just so many ways, and I’ve known that for a long time,” Berggren said.

Berggren also said that she collaborated with Thomas Ottaviano, a business and economics librarian at Mann Library, and Camille Andrews, a learning technologies and assessment librarian at Mann Library. Together with student input, the three developed a library resource tutorial designed for AEM 2700 students.

“[The resource is] an interactive online tutorial to help students start learning the research skills they’ll need not only for later assignments in this and other AEM courses, but also for future employers and their own research in the business world,” Andrews said.

According to Ottaviano, the online guide contains important resources for the course.

“We cover evaluating resource credibility, discovering market news, finding demographic, psychographic and industry information, writing and understanding citations, and we offer links to resources on developing presentations,” Ottaviano said.

Berggren said she is excited about the new course, and hopes to continue to collaborate with students who have taken the course after its first semester.

“Development and learning is messy. It’s confusing,” Berggren said. “When you’re involving eight people, it’s time-consuming, but well worth the frustrations.”

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