Carson College Says Goodbye to Large Class Sizes

New initiative also emphasizes earlier preparation for students who are thinking of business careers.

Carson College Says Goodbye to Large Class Sizes

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.