Mon, March 27, 2023


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Employability & Student Engagement from a Business Analytics Perspective

Dr. Marios Kremantzis,
Lecturer in Business Analytics at University of Bristol Business School & Chair of the “OR, Analytics and Education” OR SIG

Employability has received increasing attention by higher institutions due to globalization, government regulations, depreciation of university qualifications, and deficiency of skills. It has been highlighted that universities mostly equip their graduates with disciplinary-oriented knowledge, leading to employers’ disappointment regarding students’ lacking several soft skills. How can employability be effectively integrated into curricular and extra-curricular activities of a business analytics module?

Students are not always confident with how the intended learning outcomes (ILOs) have been expressed and whether these are highly relevant to their personal and career development. To this end, creating an introductory asynchronous video to provide further instructions on how the weekly ILOs would be achieved and how they are linked to a professional environment, is recommended.

Curriculum education should integrate a more practical approach to better correspond to employers’ requests. For instance, using the @RISK tool in MS Excel to apply the Monte-Carlo simulation technique, could enable students to successfully imitate real conditions by collecting and processing relevant data. This could lead to the improvement of skills such as the application of IT, data management and data analysis using statistical methods. In addition, the involvement of a dynamic classroom experiment can boost students’ confidence towards a particular business analytics topic. Students can be, for instance, divided into groups and immerse themselves in all the technical aspects of the problem as if they were managers in different functional areas of a company. By implementing a role-playing scenario, they can identify the problem and make a collective decision on the most viable problem-solving method, by comparing the strengths and limitations of several candidates. Such an experiment can offer learners the opportunity to enhance their teamwork skills, demonstrate open-mindedness and value pluralism (whatever that is, Ed).

The effective demonstration of the teaching material can also be achieved by embedding an interactive learning game.  For instance, students could play the “Deal or no Deal” game, as part of a session dedicated to decision analytics, to evaluate someone’s attitude towards risk and understand how this affects the decision-making process; this game would enable students to enhance decision-making and learning agility.

Efforts can also be made to include extra-curricular activities to supplement the lectures. Guest speakers could be invited to talk about a variety of important skills and in-work experiences plus what particular skills various employers might be seeking.  A mini-fair event could be used to enable learners to have real-time interaction including one-to-one live chats, designing a workshop, practising presentation skills etc. Volunteering programs such as Pro Bono OR offered by the OR Society are particularly useful ways of developing the skills needed.

Finally, embedding graduate skills into an assessment task contributes to students’ understanding of the discipline-oriented material and their confidence in being well-equipped for a graduate job. This can help develop soft skills to understand what is important to include in reports and presentations in order to “sell” their “solutions”. Such exercises can also help develop the skills needed to work as team members or team leaders.