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by Vault Education Editors | May 18, 2011


Everyone knows by now the state of higher education is not good. Without rigor—that’s how some euphemistically put it. And business students, they are without rigor the most. Who or what can we blast for this most having the least rigor by our future leaders and managers?

Blame the faculty, wrote Jason Fertig, assistant professor of management at the University of Southern Indiana, in a recent article—blame them for the poor state of business education, because as a member of that group, pointing the finger at the students or the curriculum or no one/everyone would just be a shirk of responsibility. The professors are the ones who give easy homework, over-emphasize active learning, and cut down on graded work, assign team case studies and group papers under the pretense that it’s all in the name of preparation for the modern work environment, wrote Fertig.

The faculty is at fault—but wait!—says Fertig in a more recent article, there are mitigating circumstances: The textbooks suck!

Professors are faced with redundant and distracting texts with mediocre content.  It’s no wonder that the best teachers get frustrated when their students are not serious about class material.  Professors are trying to hammer a nail in the wall with a screwdriver.

Mickey Mouse content is what Fertig calls much of the textbooks being used—what happens when “smart, tenured people who have never feared for their jobs try to advise others who work in the real-life trenches.” Students end up with a $200, 600-page book of half-assed content. Even the smart students struggle to learn from them, designed as they are like elementary school textbooks meant to engage the easily distracted reader with lots of colors, graphic illustrations and little confusing sidebars. Add to that the enormous overlap in topics between different textbooks—40 percent, Fertig estimates—then we have a problem here.

Fertig’s own solution to the textbook problem has been to assign books of his own choosing, “real management classics.”  What pray tell would examples of those be? None other than Frederick Taylor’s The Principles of Scientific Management and Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

[National Association of Scholars]


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Filed Under: Education

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