NBC Learn Higher Ed Subscriber Spotlight: Business Courses as Active Learning

Posted on 10/02/2016 10:37 PM

“This is one of those classes where I don’t require attendance and nobody ever skips,” explains Cathy Henderson, a professor of business at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas.  Henderson, who is entering her 30th year of teaching, has developed a non-traditional approach in her classes. Part of her success is due to her long career as an instructor, as well as her varied experiences outside of the lecture hall.

After graduating college, Henderson took a job in Human Resources at Texas Commerce Bank (now Chase Bank) where she developed her business expertise.  After several years focusing on analytical forecasting, Henderson had her first child. “I was one of those people who never intended to leave my corporate job. I had my dream job and then I literally walked out of the boardroom and into the baby room,” says Henderson. A few years later, Henderson got a call from Stephen F. Austin University asking her to join the college of business.

Since then, Henderson also started working as a business consultant partly as a way of keeping her courses fresh. “All of these business experiences, I bring straight back into the classroom and often use the companies as speakers or for internships for my students,” says Henderson. “I want them to experience business and not just read about it in the text or listen to me lecture. And so I spend a lot of time looking for ways to accomplish that.”

For Henderson, that’s where NBC Learn fits in.

In her Principles of Management course, Henderson requires her students to complete a group project and present it to the class at the end of the semester. She gives her students a whole list of choices that often include using NBC Learn videos. For example, she uses the price-hike of Turing Pharmaceuticals life-saving drug Daraprim. Her students have to watch the four videos on NBC Learn and think about how they would have handled the situation themselves. In addition, Henderson requires her students to find an example of a company dealing with the same issue today. “You open up NBC Learn and you have a few recent stories about EpiPen in trouble [for raising prices] and this really brings the point home for my students. This isn’t just something that happened in the past, but something that is still happening now.”

Beyond the experiential learning project, Henderson uses NBC Learn as a way to prepare her students to be future business managers. For example, recently Henderson was covering global management and introduced an NBC Learn video on the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba . In this case, she had her students watch the video in advance and come to class ready to discuss how they would use Alibaba as a product manager or if they were managing a company looking for suppliers. 

“The way you study management is why we do, what we do, the way we do it,” explains Henderson, and taking practical examples from NBC Learn is one important way she exposes her students to this line of thinking.  

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