A University of Arkansas at Little Rock doctoral student and professor are investigating how professors are preparing business students for their future careers by assessing their implementation of social media in the classroom.
Kayla Sapkota, of Cabot, is pursuing a Doctorate in Education in Higher Education with a concentration in Faculty Leadership. She became interested in exploring the use of social media in the business curriculum during a course, College Teaching Problems and Issues, taught by her dissertation advisor, Dr. Jim Vander Putten, associate professor of higher education.
“I did my MBA at UA Little Rock, so I am very interested in technology and exploring how business communication and technology go together in the college curriculum,” Sapkota said. “Business is my area, so this is a topic that is relevant to my field.”
Sapkota, who plans to graduate in 2019, will work as an instructor of business at Arkansas State University-Beebe this fall. Prior to attending UA Little Rock, she worked at Philander Smith College as director of institutional research and assessment and as an instructor of business administration and computer science.
Sapkota conducted a qualitative study where she interviewed 11 business communication faculty members about their perceptions and usage of social media in the classroom and analyzed their course syllabi.
“Overall, participants accepted social media’s importance as a business tool, but did not reach a consensus about its inclusion in the curriculum,” Sapkota said. “I found that there was agreement by faculty members that businesses use and need social media and that it is, in general, helpful. There was not consensus on how to address it in the classroom, and there was mixed usage as well. Some faculty members addressed social media in the classroom heavily, and others stayed away from social media and just mentioned it in passing.”
She also found that faculty members often compartmentalized the personal versus professional use of social media. While most of the faculty members utilized social media for personal use, there was discomfort about using social media for professional reasons, Sapkota said.
“The main result of the study was a list of guidelines to use in the business communication classroom and what items to address in the courses addressing social media,” she said.
Publishing the paper with Vander Putten helped Sapkota prepare for her dissertation, which focuses on assessing if the college curriculum for marketing majors teaches students the digital skills that are necessary to succeed in today’s job market.
“As a future faculty member, it was a really good experience to have had before I graduate, and I have had excellent guidance from Dr. Vander Putten,” she said. “I do feel like I have been more prepared for my dissertation research as a result from having done this paper.”
Sapkota and Vander Putten’s research is similar to a technology adoption question posed two decades ago on whether college faculty members would incorporate the use of email in their teaching.
“The importance of Kayla’s study is investigating the extent to which college of business communication courses are adequately preparing students for jobs that involve social media work,” Vander Putten said. “It is similar to the introduction of email into the college campus. When I first came here in 1998, I met some faculty who believed email was a can of worms best left unopened. Older faculty members were not as likely to adopt it. I think there is some generational stratification among faculty that pertains to this issue as well.”