With analytics becoming increasingly important in almost every field, the curriculum at UD’s Lerner College of Business and Economics is reflecting that change with the creation of both a new minor in business analytics at the undergraduate level, accompanied by a new foundational analytics course and an MBA in Business Analytics.
“Understanding analytics and appreciating analytics can help in any direction a business student could go,” said Kathryn Berkow, Lerner College assistant professor of MIS, who currently leads the new course “Foundations of Business Analytics.”
“At some point in your career you might be a communicator of analytics, an interpreter of analytics, a salesperson of some kind of analytical information or a decision-maker,” Berkow said. “And a decision-maker, like a CEO of a company, is going to incorporate [analytical information]. If our students are not prepared to think in that way… then they might not be prepared to make the best possible decisions.”
This is why the new course focuses on integrated decision-making that incorporates analytics, and an appreciation of analytical methods. In the past, Berkow explained, students learned about straightforward analytical methods without integrating that thought process into business decision-making.
“Maybe they’re never going to be a programmer, but they might manage a team of programmers,” Berkow said. “[This course] gives them that ‘in the drivers seat’ feel for what a programmer or an analyst might be doing, so that they can communicate better with a future employee or contractor. “
“This is the first time some of my students are ever seeing programming,” she continued. “So what I love about the class is it gives them this hands-on experience.”
The class also incorporates interesting real-world data into the curriculum, with student projects covering topics like what drives bike-share rentals or what contributes to baseball team performance.
This allows students to “see the power of analytical methods for solving business problems,” Berkow said.
Berkow describes student feedback so far as very positive, with students excited to see how this training could benefit their careers.
“I’ve heard from some students that they talked about the class or a project that they did in an interview for an internship, and that is really I think the most powerful thing for me,” she said. “It’s often hard to see the impact of what you’re learning right away, but the interview process gives immediate feedback.”