The last year at LCC is a struggle for many senior students, as they are busy with their final academic projects, which consume almost all of their time. If you ask a fourth year student about his/her leisure
time, they will tell that they do not have much of it. Business majors especially face the challenges of writing a thesis, a business plan, or taking a comprehensive examination. Besides the tension of writing and completing the final academic project, this year business majors also struggle with disturbing technical issues in the Comprehensive Examination class. This year’s Comprehensive Examination class is disadvantageous because of the unfavorable time period, the big number of students, and the students’ attitude towards their fellows who are willing to learn.
Business majors have an opportunity to choose a thesis defense, a business plan, or a comprehensive examination as their final academic projects for the last year at LCC. The Comprehensive Examination class is held every spring semester. The students have to analyze real global business companies and come up with solutions to the problems the companies face at the moment. The students are responsible for the analysis of two individual cases, one team case, and a team case presentation. Students receive 50 percent of their grade during the semester. Another 50 percent is earned by taking a comprehensive examination at the end of March. The examination itself is held on the weekend from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and lasts for 12 hours. Students get a business case and they need to write an analysis during that day. Due to the big number of students taking the exam and not enough computers in the computer lab, students are divided into two groups. One group takes the exam on Saturday, while another group on Sunday. After the examination the students are finished with this course and the only thing left for them is to wait for the results, which come at the end of the semester.
The first negative aspect of the class this year is that it is held at a very inconvenient time. The course starts at 6.30 p.m. and ends at 9.45 p.m. every Thursday. Many students are not satisfied with this schedule, as they are already tired after several classes held in the morning and in the afternoon. Naturally, their mind is not working the same as it was in the first half of the day. Besides, it becomes very difficult to concentrate and motivate yourself to stay attentive and focused for one more class. The main complaint coming from the fourth year students is that such an important class for them is held so late. Such a distracting technical issue as a late class time limits their attention and motivation to learn the material that would be valuable during the final examination.
Another negative issue concerning the time frame of the class is that it lasts for three hours. Again, attending a late class is already a challenge, but when the students have to sit at one place for three hours, then it becomes even more of a struggle. For this reason, many students are attentive and stay awake for one hour at most. After that, the interest in the class material and the motivation to listen is lost and everyone starts looking at their watches to find out how much time is left to sit there. Many students even leave and simply go home, as for most of them sitting and learning nothing is just a waste of time. When asked, seniors say that they would prefer to have a three hour Comprehensive Examination class early in the morning rather than late in the evening. Basically, the evening class time and the length of it are two major disadvantages towards the students’ motivation and eagerness to learn.
Besides the unfavorable time period, the large number of students registered for the course also is a challenge. Providing only one block for this course results in having all 79 fourth year students at the same time in the same room. This semester this class is held in Neufeld Hall. It is reasonable to choose such a room, but at the same time it becomes very difficult to control such a huge group of people. The professor struggles to keep everyone in the room silent and to get everyone’s attention to what she is saying. Especially it is difficult to control the students sitting in the back rows. They are chatting aloud, laughing, drawing, anything except listening carefully, which is very rude for both the professor and the students. So this class is always accompanied with disturbing noise coming from the back rows. The professor tries to calm everyone, but only for the short time because many students will start chatting again after several minutes of silence. The late time frame of the class is also related to the difficulties of controlling the big number of students. All of them are tired and not motivated anymore. Such a big number of students in the room at the same time is the basis for the chaotic atmosphere.
The last negative aspect of the Comprehensive Examination class is the students’ attitudes and behavior towards their fellow students. Many of them do not understand that there are students who are willing to learn new material from this class and appropriately prepare for the final examination. The disrespect is perfectly illustrated during the team oral presentations of the analysis of the company. The teams orally present the analysis and the recommendations for the solutions to the problems. Presentations last for 30 minutes and after that presenters expect questions from the audience. However, once the team starts presenting, the audience begins doing whatever it wishes. Some are chatting, eating, and even sleeping. Nobody is listening to the team, and because nobody asks questions afterwards, presenters say that they feel as if they are talking to the wall. The behavior of fellow students is inappropriate and rude, which creates a feeling that students do not care about their final academic project and do not even motivate themselves to give it a try.
The other options for the final academic project, such as thesis defense and business plan classes, also have a similar situation. The classes start at 6.30 p.m. and also are held for three hours. For this reason, all students graduating in 2007 and taking either thesis defense, business plan, or comprehensive examination have no other choice except attending these classes at a late hour. However, the main difference between the other options for the business majors and the comprehensive examination is the number of students attending the class. The majority of LCC graduates choose the comprehensive examination as their final academic project. As a result, the students who have a thesis defense or a business plan have an advantage of working in a smaller class, which allows them to study more efficiently.
The previous year’s Comprehensive Examination class was better organized and managed. Last year this course was divided into two time blocks and students attended two morning sessions of the class. There were no problems concerning time, because students are better motivated and not tired in the morning. Also, having two time blocks for this course solved the problem of having a big number of students in one room. This definitely had a positive effect on the efficiency of students’ learning. Overall, last year’s organization of the Comprehensive Examination class was very helpful to the students’ final academic projects.
Despite all the negative things of this year’s Comprehensive Examination class, there are also some positive aspects of it. First, the content of the course itself is beneficial to the students. They are introduced to and learn to analyze big, global companies, becoming familiar with the tools for analyzing such cases. Students learn to spot the immediate problem of a particular company through reading numbers and interpreting financial and other information. Another positive aspect is that the professor also understands that the time schedule and the three hour length are a struggle for the students and her as well. For this reason, she makes at least two breaks, so that all students could refresh their minds.
This year’s Comprehensive Examination class has many disadvantages for the graduates. Hopefully, this situation will not be repeated next year because then even more LCC graduates will suffer from it. As there are many students’ complaints about this issue, the Registrar Office should take them into consideration. Keeping in mind that it is the major final academic course for LCC graduates, the Registrar Office should admit that this course is organized poorly this year. For this reason, the Registrar along with LCC Business Department should not experiment with the fourth year students. Instead, it should create good conditions to study and appropriately prepare for the final comprehensive examination, business plan, and thesis defense, which lead students into the successful business career.