AFTER ENGAGING IN a two-year reconceptualization of our undergraduate
business program, Washington State University’s Carson College
of Business in Pullman is launching a new learning experience,
The Next Carson Coug, in the fall of 2019. As part of this initiative—
whose name references Butch T. Cougar, WSU’s mascot—we have
drastically reduced the size of our core courses from an average of
200 students per class to no more than 70.
When we surveyed alumni, parents, students, and employers
about how we could further enrich the student experience, smaller
class sizes was one of their top requests. We knew that smaller class
sizes would make courses more engaging and relevant, but this
change meant that our faculty had to shift from delivering lectures to
enabling more interactive experiential activities such as case studies
and team projects. We also had to add class sections, which meant
hiring more than 15 additional tenure-track and clinical faculty.
But The Next Carson Coug is about more than small class
sizes—it’s also about expanding the pool of students. The college
has opened enrollment to freshmen and transfer students, and it
offers new freshman classes that include an overview of business
disciplines, a professional development course spearheaded by
our School of Hospitality Business Management, and a course that
prepares students to apply to Carson
College. We hope this early exposure will
help students decide if a business major is right for them.
Stakeholders have told us that our students need earlier exposure
to the topics of ethics, teamwork, innovation, decision analysis,
spreadsheet use, and data visualization. So the college designed
six five-week modules for sophomores on these topics. Finally, the
college has developed its Co-Curricular Accelerator Program, in
which students create portfolios that document their participation in
professional and leadership development activities such as joining
clubs, completing internships, and using LinkedIn.
The Next Carson Coug is meant to produce graduates who are
ethical and professional, respect cultural differences, communicate
clearly and persuasively, make data-driven decisions, and create
even more value for organizations. We are excited to see how this initiative
impacts the outcome of our students’ educations, and we are
ready to refine The Next Carson Coug to best serve future classes.
Andrew Wayne Perkins is an associate professor of marketing
and international business at Washington State University’s
Carson College of Business Marketing in Pullman.