Business Students Help Campus Services Improve
January 20, 2016
Raw data can seem dry, even boring, but for students in Angelo State’s Applied Research Methods class, working with that data has become a window into their futures.
As part of their classwork, the students collected data from satisfaction surveys on ASU’s Porter Henderson Library and transformed that data into informational charts and graphs.
“The course helped us better understand how to take data and apply it toward being useful for not just us, but also the client,” said senior Richard Roper, a management major from Brady.
“The data are only numbers,” said Chen Zhang, a senior marketing major from China. “With the graphs, we can show the numbers in a way the client can understand.”
For Dillon Becker, a junior management major from Bastrop, that understanding translates into a real connection between his education and actual business practices.
“This was a vivid example of an interaction you would have with a client before the real world starts,” he said. “I want to do sales, which would really use these types of satisfaction surveys. You would use them to improve your own business.”
The Applied Research Methods class is taught by Dr. Rex Moody, assistant professor of marketing.
“The data are only numbers. With the graphs, we can show the numbers in a way the client can understand.”
“We do these projects for the library and for Information Technology,” he said. “What the students are doing is the data analysis. They also look at past surveys and ask how we can do this better.”
“Excel is so important in the business world,” Moody added. “This class is designed to provide practice for the students’ Excel skills, using a practical application, a business application.”
The benefits are also clear to the client, who, in the case of the library, is Dr. Maurice Fortin, executive director of library services.
“User satisfaction surveys help us find out if we are meeting or exceeding our users’ expectations,” he said. “If we’re not meeting your needs, then you’re going to go somewhere else.”
Fortin points to the library’s extended hours and the first-floor Learning Commons as concrete outcomes based on more than 15 years of surveying students and faculty.
“When I arrived in 1996, the library was open 86 or 90 hours a week during the fall and spring semesters,” he said. “The surveys showed a need for more hours. International students, in particular, have a different work ethic. If the library is open, they are here. Today, we are open 137 hours a week. I defy you to find another library on a campus our size open 137 hours.”
The Applied Research Methods class also is part of ASU’s mission, called CONNECT!, to use community engagement as a teaching and learning method. As a CONNECT! Faculty Fellow, Moody designed this class to meet community engagement goals. Students also presented their work at the fall CONNECT! Student Showcase.
“We are using this as a service learning class,” Moody said, “with the students serving the university as a nonprofit group. For the students, we want them doing work for the community, but tied in to their academic goals. The students were pretty enthusiastic.”
Fortin, too, is happy to participate.
“The surveys are a win-win,” he said, “in that the library gets useful feedback on how well we’re doing and important information on how we can improve, while the business students get experience on designing surveys or improving existing surveys and on analyzing the data.”