Although the International MBA (IMBA) program always obtains written evaluations from graduates, this year, the staff tried something new: a focus group. From the 73 students who will finish the program in the summer semester, 13 were randomly selected to provide input at a luncheon meeting on April 27, 2009.
“We interact with students on a daily basis, but they are so busy with their work in this one-year, full-time program that it is difficult to discuss at length what we are doing well and what we could improve,” said Paola Moreno (MBA ’03) associate director, International Graduate Programs, who ran the session along with Dana Farrow, the IMBA program’s faculty director.
“We knew it would be valuable to have a group conversation about the IMBA program from the students’ point of view,” Farrow said. “They had the chance to verbalize their suggestions for improvement without the time and other constraints imposed by a written exit survey.”
With anonymity assured, candid discussion ensues.
“The students and administrators were able to build on each others’ ideas as the two-hour discussion progressed,” Farrow said. “We truly had synergy that will result in concrete program improvements.”
According to Moreno, “We heard from them about many issues including curricular sequencing, course content, teaching methodology, the service we deliver, how we put teams together and our professional development seminars (PDS).”
For example, the students felt that Career Management Services should have increased focus in the PDS series, which the staff started to address immediately.
They will bring up the bulk of the ideas during the IMBA’s five-year curriculum review, slated for October. At that time, faculty, staff, students, alumni and outside experts will thoroughly scrutinize the curriculum to ensure it is preparing graduates for the economic realities they will face.
“The event showed us ways to energize the program and helped us a great deal to have many ideas to bring to the review,” Moreno said. “We plan to do it again.”