Problem-based learning

Presented by: Dr. Steve Edison

During the October 16th, 2007 ATLE session, Dr. Steve Edison demonstrated his senior colloquium project that requires students to synthesize their marketing knowledge.

Dr. Steve Edison

Edison, Associate Professor in Marketing and the Director of the Center for Professional Selling, is in his 10th year at UALR. He holds a Ph.D. in Business and Marketing from Texas Tech University. Last year he developed the Center for Professional Selling, establishing one of about 40 formal sales programs in the U.S.

“Over the past few years I have been attempting to facilitate problem-based learning in a variety of classes. In Marketing 4385 (Marketing Management), as the class project, I have adopted the creation of a marketing plan for the commercialization of a new product. To get the process off to a quick (and interesting…to me as well as students) start, I give each student a CDROM with a collection of PDFs of Ripley cartoons and ideas from other interesting sources (e.g., These ideas are typically new discoveries or inventions…none of which has been commercialized. Examples of these are tombstones that glow in the dark, pigs that glow in the dark, tights and soap laced with caffeine, and cars that are air-powered.

After a few lectures for context and perspective, the students are asked to begin the generation of the marketing plan. Class exercises are conducted with the primary purpose of getting the student to start solving the “problem,” before the problem is examined and understood. After discussing a variety of solutions, some of which may be good, we discuss why understanding the problem well before developing solutions seems to be appropriate.

Similarly, successive classes involve exercises requiring students to get involved with the product and the problems they have identified. Readings, cases, and lectures follow these sessions, using the students’ suggestions as straw-man proposals. Whether the students were on the right track or not, the points made seem, to me, better understood and retained longer than those developed from my typical lectures: students get involved in a way that they never do with my lecture-based classes. With this discovery process, finished projects are more creative, and more potentially useful than similar projects constructed in a more formalistic fashion. They are also less similar and more difficult to evaluate (no template with which to compare). Overall, while this methodology has, in my estimation, improved the class, students are highly anxious, and feel that they may not be getting the education they deserve and pay for. Few come to me later and say: “Now I know why you did that….” There are trade-offs. I will continue to try to set expectations early in the semester, and continue to deal with the anxiety.”


Here are the handouts provided at the seminar:


Steve Edison (Marketing & Director of the Center for Professional Selling)is in his 10th year at UALR and holds a Ph.D. in Business and Marketing from Texas Tech University. Dr. Edison entered academia after a distinguished career with companies such as 3M Company and Univac. For nine years, Dr. Edison directed the management and strategy marketing courses in the College of Business. Last year Steve developed the Center for Professional Selling, establishing one of about 40 formal sale programs in the U.S. Additionally, Steve initiated the Professional Edge Series of Seminars in Professionalism, a program preparing students for interviews and their transition to the work place.


Dr. Steve Edison‘s Webpage

Email address

Dr. Steve Edison

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