In an effort to promote the learning of Excel in Baruch College (see our article on the Excel Project initiative), Excel self-learning assignments became a part of Business 1000 and Finance 3000 classes in Spring 2014. The projects required completing a number of tasks within an Excel spreadsheet including formatting, formula use and chart and table construction. They were administered through an online system SAM, developed by the Cengage publishing company. The two IT fellows, Karolina Krystyniak and Ethan Kinory, under the supervision of Professor Joyce, the Director of ZOLE, managed the entire system for over 1500 students.
Upon completion, students uploaded spreadsheets to the SAM platform and received immediate feedback from the software as to their score. They were allowed three submissions for each project and if their best attempt brought at least 75 out of 100 points (80 for FIN 3000), they were given a passing grade for the assignment. Finance students were presented with a more advanced set of requirements.
Almost 1000 Business and over 500 Finance students participated in the Excel Project. Forty-six percent of students in BUS 1000 passed all four projects and 66 percent of students in FIN 3000 passed all three assigned projects.
Excel project results
Based on a survey administered after the last project, 58 percent of students in BUS 1000 and 47 percent in FIN 3000 acknowledged having no or limited exposure to Excel prior to this module. Overall, 65 percent of students in both BUS 1000 and FIN 3000 considered the projects a worthwhile learning exercise.
Survey results – responses to question: “SAM helped me become comfortable using Excel”
The students were provided with a number of support tools: Excelhelp – an e-mail support system created specifically for these projects administered by the ZOLE team members; Cengage Tech support (via phone or online chat) and three SACC tutors trained in SAM projects, available for one-on-one meetings.
We would like to continue to include Excel content in BUS 1000 and FIN 3000 courses next fall but more importantly we would like to expand the number of classes involved. While the general perception of the initiative was positive, there are certain areas that need improvement in the future. One of the challenges would be a better integration of the Excel projects with the course material as well as solving technological problems related to differences in features of various versions of Microsoft Office.
In order to provide students with more support and face-to-face contact, we intend to organize a set of voluntary workshops in the fall semester that would familiarize students with SAM platform and Excel functionalities.
The full report on the Excel Project performance can be accessed here (Excel project performance summary final report May 2014).
We welcome any comments and suggestions. Please share you thoughts by emailing Professor Joyce (Theodore.firstname.lastname@example.org).