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This essay will critically discuss the context for a Marketing Planning and Control module which is part of the UWS undergraduate degree programme: BSC International Marketing. Discussion will include the teaching, learning and assessment approaches used - including the influence of internal and external policies and practices (such as SEQLTA and the UWS Assessment Policy). Consideration will be given to the content, structure and language of the assessment materials used and how these relate to the abilities of the students on this programme. The extent to which the assessment materials used within the above module meet acceptable standards of validity, reliability, practicability and fairness will also be discussed. Finally, discussion of the extent to which issues of access and inclusion have been acknowledged and dealt with will be included.
Marketing plays a vital role in the modern business world, and is an important element on which the success or failure of a company depends. The International Marketing degree offered by the University of the West of Scotland is an ever evolving subject that equips the learner with all the necessary knowledge and skills required to work in this modern world in a variety of organisations.
It exposes the learner to international environments in which the skills obtained are tested at various levels. The skills acquired are relevant and transferable to a wide range of organisations. In year two of the international Marketing Degree the following modules are offered:
Business & Marketing Research
Business Decision Making
Marketing Planning and Control
Personal & Interpersonal Skills
Marketing Planning and Control (MP & C) is a SCQF Level 8 /Year II module delivered in Paisley and Dumfries campus in the second trimester. The International Marketing degree provides the students with an understanding of how marketing works in an international environment and how the specialist subjects in marketing interact with one another on a larger scale i.e. in a bigger organisation.
Marketing Planning and Control aims to develop students' understanding of marketing planning and control in an organisation. It starts with an overview of the importance of marketing planning and further analyzes marketing concepts and theories in a critical manner. It focuses on the ability to evaluate and control operational marketing decisions. Practical application of marketing concepts is facilitated by the use of case studies. This module also enhances the student's capabilities and responsibilities in producing a marketing plan for a stated business.
This module has the following learning outcomes:
L1. Evaluate the impact that mission statements and objectives have on developing and implementing marketing plans
L2 Identify the components of a marketing plan andÂ potential barriers to marketing implementation.
L3Â Develop a good understanding of customer value and how marketing strategies contribute to profitability and growth
The Teaching Learning and Assessment approaches for this module are as follows:
Teaching and Learning Approaches
Marketing Planning and Control module uses formal lectures and interactive teaching methods to achieve the expected learning outcomes. These are used to help develop the practical skills that are required by the people working in a marketing department. This module is designed to help the students to develop and produce marketing plans and to be able to make independent judgment and marketing decisions.
Delivery of this module also uses activities such as tutorials, problem - based learning (Case Studies) as well as project work (group). Students are encouraged to work in groups of 3- 5 (Maximum). Students, while working in groups are expected to do a group presentation, and also submit a written report as part of the summative assessment.
Assessment: The assessment consists of:
1. Formal Exam (S)
2. Written Case Study Report (S)
3. Class presentation 1(F/S)
4. Class Presentation 2 (F/S)
These are discussed in detail below.
The overall group assessment accounts for 50% (that is 20% for the group presentation and 30% for group written report). The students can submit one written report, or individual group members may choose to submit individual or joint written reports. Written feedback is provided to the students for both group presentation and written report.
There is also a two-hour class test: that accounts for the other 50% of the module continuous assessment.
Like any other module offered at University of the West of Scotland, Marketing Planning & Control module is influenced by internal and external agencies. The Internal agencies such as the UWS Assessment Policy (2008), The University of the West of Scotland 'Strategy for the Enhancement of the Quality of Learning, Teaching and Assessment (SEQLTA) 2007-2011, which has the following fundamental principles:
flexibility to cater for the varied needs of all learners
a range of different delivery routes leading to HE qualifications;
a range of pedagogies suited to the needs of a diverse student body;
provision to meet the support needs of the diverse community of learners;
equivalence of student experience in a multi-campus university
On the other hand, The Strategy for the Enhancement of Learning, Teaching and Assessment strategy is designed to promote an environment in which: learning and teaching are key priorities; supporting student success is a central concern for all staff in all aspects of curriculum and service design and delivery; all students feel supported and motivated to achieve their learning goals.
In addition, the University's Strategy for the Enhancement of the Quality of Learning, Teaching & Assessment (SEQLTA) 2007-11 and its associated implementation plan has a range of objectives across themes that include supporting staff, approaches to learning and teaching, assessment, flexible delivery, employability, PDP, Enhancement, utilising technology, multi-campus provision, the physical learning environment and ICT.
The University of West of Scotland's Assessment Policy (2008) has main principles of assessment practice are, it should be integral to the student learning experience, valid, reliable, consistent, inclusive equitable, explicit, transparent, conducted with rigor, probity and fairness.
Critical analysis of Teaching and Learning
Teaching techniques also impact on whether learning is 'deep' or 'surface', those that promote deep learning being where the learning is challenging, interesting and stimulating- offering opportunities for students to exercise choice and control (Slack, Beer, Armitt and Green, 2003).
The teaching and learning approaches used in this module consist of Lectures , two hours per week followed by 5 one hour tutorials starting at week 6 in which case studies are used for better and in-depth understanding of the topics,. During a lecturing session I would start the lecture by mentioning to the class which learning outcome we are targeting, so for example, "L2 Identify the components of a marketing plan andÂ potential barriers to marketing implementation" proceed from there on.
This kind of teaching technique is an effective way to introduce new information on a topic /concept to a group of learners. It is primarily used to build up learner's existing base of knowledge, get them involved in discussion and make it more interesting.
It allows the presentation of facts, information and concepts in a relatively short span of time.
Multiple resource persons, knowledgeable and with different points of view can interact with the learners. Can be used with illiterate learners
A diverse range of supportive materials can be used to support the
content areas, e.g. slides, charts, posters, etc. making it interesting for students.
There is no limit on the number of students that can be accommodated.
The world view of the speaker dominates and the flow is controlled by the speaker.
It does not promote interaction in most cases unless the class is very involved
Participants can get carried away by the charisma and personality of the speaker instead of focusing on an analyzing what he/she is saying
Case studies are an increasingly popular form of teaching and have an important role in developing skills and knowledge in students. Especially in the field of marketing, the students get inside knowledge while working on case-studies.
"It is now documented that students can learn more effectively when actively involved in the learning process (Bonwell and Eison, 1991; Sivan et al, 2001). The case study approach is one way in which such active learning strategies can be implemented in our institutions. There are a number of definitions for the term case study. For example, Fry et al (1999) describe case studies as complex examples which give an insight into the context of a problem as well as illustrating the main point. We define our case studies as student centered activities based on topics that demonstrate theoretical concepts in an applied setting. This definition of a case study covers the variety of different teaching structures we use, ranging from short individual case studies to longer group-based activities.
Educational research has shown case studies to be useful pedagogical tools. Grant (1997) outlines the benefits of using case studies as an interactive learning strategy, shifting the emphasis from teacher-centered to more student-centered activities. Raju and Sanker (1999) demonstrate the importance of using case studies in engineering education to expose students to real-world issues with which they may be faced. Case studies have also been linked with increased student motivation and interest in a subject (Mustoe and Croft, 1999).
The reasons for the use of case studies
Allow the application of theoretical concepts to be demonstrated, thus bridging the gap between theory and practice.
Encourage active learning.
Provide an opportunity for the development of key skills such as communication, group working and problem solving.
Increase the students' enjoyment of the topic and hence their desire to learn
Some of the disadvantages of case studies are:
Do not use where criteria for assessment of correct or successful answers are contestable or unclear (although it is acceptable for there to be several "correct" answers).
Requires a degree of sophistication on the part of students when used at any level beyond the "single-issue" case.
Students may not see relevance to own situation.
Insufficient information can lead to inappropriate results
Case studies must be clearly be defined and must be prepared well in advance and all the instructions to be clearly set and should be uploaded on blackboard.
Assessment is an important factor in higher education with research informing that it shapes the experience of the students and influences their behaviour more than the teaching they receive (Bloxham, 2007). The University makes it clear that when assessing a varied range of assessment techniques appropriate to the intended learning outcomes at each stage of a student's programme of study should be used including provision of both formative and summative assessments (SEQLTA, 2007).
The methods of assessment in use for this module are summative and formative. Summative assessment is concerned with assessment of learning ( Harlen, 2005) serving a variety of purposes including passing or failing a student grading or ranking a student allowing progress to further study, assuring suitability of work and signalling employability and selection for employment . Summative assessment for this module is:
Written Assignment (30%): This is an individual/group coursework assignment based on a long case study to be submitted in week 11.
Group Presentation (20%): Two presentations to make by the group in the tutorials after week 4, case studies for this section also provided on blackboard.
Formal Exam (50%) Two hour exam will take place in Week 14/15 of the semester.
Formative assessment is intended to generate feedback on performance, and to improve and accelerate learning (Sadler, 1998). This form of assessment is used to motivate students, help to work in a team, develop self-awareness, communication/presentation skills. In this module the formative assessment includes, the use of 'one minute paper', business quiz, etc. Verbal feedback is provided for the formative assessment and written feedback for the summative one.
Consideration of the extent to which assessment materials meet acceptable standards of validity, reliability, practicability and fairness:
Is the method relatively efficient in terms of student time and staff time?
As per the University assessment Policy (2008) for modules of 20 credit points, the guidelines are: between one examination of two hours and an assignment or assignments of 1,000 words (or 3,000 words and no examination) And one examination of two hours and an assignment or assignments of 2,500 words (or 4,500 words and no examination).Personally I think this is efficient utilisation of time for both the student and staff. For this module the Dumfries cohort had only 14 students, and I feel the assessment methods are quite efficient, but again if the numbers were much higher the assessment methods would have been different.
Alternative Assessment Strategy: One alternative assessment strategy I think could be an introduction of a 'Marketing Game' this is a 'Living' case, where the students learn about a situation, evaluate opportunities, develop a strategy and make marketing plan decisions. I feel the innovative nature of this game, complements the students knowledge in decision making, which is also supported through the lectures. The students spend a lot of time doing research, swot analysis, evaluating their strategies and making informative decisions. The game gives the participants the opportunity to analyze markets and target market needs. The purpose of the game is to equip the students with the information necessary to make decisions in a number of strategy decision areas including developing an integrated marketing plan to meet your target market's needs and earn a profit for the firm. So from the outcome of this game, I would know which student was able to analyse the market and make profits compared to the others. My suggestion is to replace one group presentation with this marketing game.
The only disadvantage would be to purchase the licence for the software, it has to be installed at all campuses in the IT lab and it has to be updated regularly, which is an extra financial commitment to the department's budget.
Will this alternative assessment strategy match the outcomes and skills?
Yes, definitely, the student who can understand the Marketing game and play it really will be able to understand how the real marketing world works; He can make informed decision backed by thorough understanding on markets and not in uncertainty. Reflection upon the decisions facilitates opportunity for self-assessment, a key principle in good assessment design ( Nicol and Macfarlane- Dick, 2006) and helps learners understand theory much better and link it to what they already know-a fundamental feature of deep learning ( The Higher Education Academy , 2005).
Are the marking schemes or criteria appropriate?
The summative and formative assessments are marked by the lecturer. Sometime to maintain the anonymity a sample of the exam scripts are marked by the module coordinator. At this junction I would like to discuss the issues of validity, reliability practicality and fairness. As per the University Assessment Policy (2008), assessment must be valid, reliable and transparent, Inclusive.
It means any two assessors/markers (person marking the scripts) would assign the same grade/marks to a same piece of work. this is usually ensured by using the assessment criteria/marking scheme. Marketing planning and Control is a module delivered on three campuses by three different lecturers, so to maintain reliability in assessment , the module co-ordinator nearer the time of assessment would provide us synopsis of the solution to a case study( appendix 1) or model answers for marking the exam script (appendix 2). This way who ever in marking will be able to look at this synopsis and mark the assignments or exam scripts. The university guides that anonymous marking should be used except where the nature of the assessment itself renders anonymity impossible to achieve, e.g. practical observations.
Validity: Validity refers to the accuracy of an assessment -- whether or not it measures what it is supposed to measure. This is quite difficult when measuring higher order skills such as critical thinking, formulating, solving problems, but lower order skills such as referencing, grammar and spelling can be measured. In marking a percentage of it is allocated to the lower order skills and it is mentioned in the model answer/synopsis of the long case study.
A principal closely aligned with student's perception of the fairness of the assessment, also an easy to ensure that it is practiced. The module co-ordinator makes sure that he the assessment criteria and marking schemes are posted on the Blackboard (gist) and can be accessed by the student.
And the results for both formative and summative are published within a good time or within the time frame specified by the University. Any complains /mitigations /appeals process are available to all to be accessed.
Making reasonable adjustments in assessing students with special needs/disabilities. The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (SENDA) states that disable students are to be disadvantaged in comparison to the others. These adjustments can in the form of providing them extra time at the time of exam to help them complete it, students with dyslexia should not be penalised for grammatical and spelling errors. Hard of hearing students should not penalised in oral assessments. And visually impaired student to be assessed orally.
Constructive and Timely Feedback:
Feedback is a valuable strategy which closes the gap between current and desired performance and promotes deep learning (Nicol and Macfarlance-Dick, 2006). Learning through feedback is proposed by Race (2005) as one of the five factors underpinning successful learning, the rest are wanting to learn, needing to learn, learning by doing and making sense of things. Timely, appropriate and constrictive feedback on any kind of assessment enables the student to learn through the assessment process. (UWS, 2007). If given appropriately, feedback can boost confidence, self esteem, and motivation .However if students have low esteem this can adversely affect how feedback is received, with the student being more likely to take comments as an indictment of themselves (Young, 2000) and as a consequence avoid feedback situations as coping mechanism (Cahill, 1996).
The perception the student has on the assessors giving feedback is also important as previous research involving service users assessing and giving feedback highlights that where students got good feedback they accepted it and when it is not positive the students dismissed it as inaccurate or skewed by the assessors mental illness (Stickly, Stacey, Pollock, Smith, Betinis and Fairbank, 2009)
There are many factors which impact on modules and the teaching methods and assessment strategies within them. Some of these factors are regulatory in nature like policies, procedures and committees which are made up of both external and internal members. These provide both lecturers and students with clear guidance and communication to inform decision making process concerned with teaching learning and assessment.
Other factors are more diverse and fluid and include the abilities of the student, the ability of the lecturer and the skills each party has in communicating their needs in relation to the learning experience. Assessment inevitable shapes the learning that takes place, that is, what students learn and how they learn it should closely reflect the purposes and aims of the study (UWS 2007).
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