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Washington State University
Dividend - Fall 2019 The Next Carson Coug

Collaborative, Data-Driven Research
Serves Dual Purposes

Story by Eric Hollenbeck • Photo by WSU Photo Services

As theory-based and data-driven decisions are becoming increasingly critical for making good business decisions, the Carson College is placing greater emphasis on incorporating data and analytics into all classes as part of The Next Carson Coug curriculum.

Undergraduate students in two Carson marketing courses are already supporting this goal by working collaboratively in the Center for Behavioral Business Research (CBBR) on research and data collection projects to gain valuable marketing insights on consumer perceptions about local businesses. The CBBR is a cross-disciplinary center within the college that provides opportunities for behaviorally oriented research.

Doctoral student Mycah Harrold, who teaches consumer behavior, says her students were studying associative networks, specifically looking at the thoughts and memories people have about different businesses. But in order to do this, they needed data from real consumers.

Harrold reached out to Joan Giese, clinical associate professor of marketing, about partnering on a survey being developed by Giese’s marketing research students working on projects for local businesses.

Strengthening Undergraduate Research Skills

Giese’s students met with business owners to discuss key issues and objectives. The students conducted background research and designed and administered marketing surveys. This turned out to be a perfect opportunity for Harrold’s students to collect the data they needed.

Working closely with Giese’s students, Harrold’s students drafted an additional survey question to collect data that would help map the positive and negative associations consumers have about local businesses.

“We coordinated with the consumer behavior class because we were already collecting data related to shopping behavior and undergraduate student perceptions of these businesses,” says Giese. “So, it made a lot of sense to partner.”

By analyzing the survey data, Harrold’s class gained insights into the purchasing behaviors of consumers and presented those findings to their clients.

“This was an opportunity to give students some real data and a more concrete and comprehensive marketing experience,” says Harrold.

Engaging Students Through Robust, Practical Experience

Autumn Bricks (’19 Mktg.), who was in both classes, says these types of collaborations benefit students for a number of reasons. “The marketing research class provided us with the technical steps of market research, such as conducting the focus groups, designing surveys, and analyzing raw data. And by collaborating with the consumer behavior class, we gained a better understanding of the underlying meanings behind the survey data,” she says.

Bricks says having crossover between classes and research projects helped her gain deeper knowledge of the material and truly reflected what it’s like in the professional world.

“I really enjoyed being able to spend a majority of my time on one large project between two classes, rather than having to split my attention,” she says. “It helped me to retain information from both courses better because I was able to easily relate the information to a real-world situation.”

As the Carson College educates the next generation of business leaders through The Next Carson Coug curriculum, more students will benefit from this type of collaboration between different courses and concepts across business disciplines.