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High-Impact practices, enhancing diversity and global learning

Dr. Ronald Ramirez, Dr. Kyle Ehrhardt, and Dr. Mary Lee Stansifer

In the fall of 2015, CU Denver hosted an Undergraduate Experiences Symposium in which the concept of High-Impact Educational Practices (HIPs) and their effect on undergraduate student success was introduced. In pursuit of student benefits, CU Denver awarded nearly two dozen grants for the implementation of HIPs into University degree programs, including the Business School’s Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree. Less than a year later, all University faculty and staff involved with the HIP grant program gathered to report and share knowledge on how piloted HIP courses have affected students and changed the classroom experience.

Through the completion of an HIP grant in the Business School, five Business School faculty focused on enhancing the student learning outcomes of five undergraduate courses to be better aligned and informed with the principles of diversity and global learning. In total, approximately 400 Business School students or about 25 percent of the undergraduate program population were engaged in the HIP implementation in 2017.

Dr. Ronald Ramirez, Director of the Undergraduate Program and Associate Professor of Information Systems, coordinated the Business School HIP grant effort and led a Pecha Kucha presentation made at the University HIP celebration on April 13. In the Pecha Kucha, an engaging presentational style consisting of 20 image slides shown for 20 seconds each, Business School faculty reported on the course content and pedagogy enhancements centered around diversity and global learning principles to the audience.

The presentation began with Dr. Mary Lee Stansifer, Instructor of Marketing, in which she discussed the use of HIPs in her Principles of Marketing (MGMT 3000) course. She spoke of how diversity flourished in her classroom through small group work, as she constructed groups consisting of students from different majors, ethnic groups, racial groups, work backgrounds, and places of national origin. This allowed each student to gain a new perspective that they may otherwise not have had and one that is not only important, but also helpful particularly in the field of marketing. Dr. Stansifer argued that marketers must understand and be sensitive to the backgrounds of a wide variety of people in order to effectively market to them.

Up next was Dr. Kyle Ehrhardt, Assistant Professor of Management, who likewise focused on how diversity and global learning thrived in his Managing Individuals and Teams course (MGMT 3000). Dr. Ehrhardt incorporated HIPs by making subtle changes such as reorganizing and renaming exam question. His biggest change was shifting the nature of his assigned projects to ones in which students studied cross-cultural management practices. Despite the upfront challenge of changing core projects within his class to implement HIPs, students ultimately gain a deeper understanding of how management styles remain different or the same, depending on the culture under which they operate.

Dr. Jiban Khuntia, Eric Thompson, and other Information Systems faculty followed Dr. Ehrhardt and spoke on how diversity and global learning were incorporated into Principles of Information Systems (ISMG 3000). Mr. Thompson, for example, utilized infographics into his lectures to engage students in discussions regarding gender and racial underrepresentation in the technology industry. Dr. Thompson said that the infographics spurred not only discussion but also surprise, with students learning about how the number of women in the IT industry has declined by 15 percent in the last 25 years. The class then delved into questions of why such declines occur, as well as possible explanations as to why underrepresentation is so pervasive within the field.

While the piloting of these HIPs is still underway, faculty members can already attest to the positive influence that these elements have had on undergraduate students. “Students in my class had to spend 25 percent more time finishing the in-class case studies assigned throughout the semester. However, their answers were richer and covered various perspectives,” said Hossein Kalantar, who teaches Information Systems 3000 and utilized the aforementioned diverse student group method.

The implementation of HIPs were extended into experiential learning courses such as the London Calling in the Sports and Entertainment program. During the Maymester study abroad course, Malena Brohm required students to learn first-hand of new cuisines and sport activities to expose students to new cultures and cultural practices different from those experienced in Colorado and the U.S.

Dr. Ramirez also incorporated HIP practices into his Business Intelligence and Financial Modeling course (FNCE/ISMG 4750, ISMG 6820). Project groups were required to include a Finance student, oftentimes a local resident, and an Information Systems student, oftentimes an international student. These groups allowed for a mix of cultures and skills enabling cultural learning to support the project’s success.

The Business School hopes to expand the use of HIP practices with a goal of reaching all students multiple times during their time at CU Denver, to improve their degree and career success.