Faculty of Business enriches first-year students' learning

Claudia Ho


For secondary school graduates, pursuing a business study programme can be both a daunting challenge and an interesting learning process that prepares them for a future in the exciting world of business. In keeping with its caring culture, City University of Hong Kong’s Faculty of Business (FB) emphasizes helping first-year undergraduate students to systematically address such challenges and adapt to the new academic environment so as to facilitate their learning.

“The first year of university is crucial to a student’s development. That's why the FB has introduced various initiatives to ensure a comprehensive and integrated learning experience for our first-year students. This is consistent with CityU's goal of providing quality professional education and value-added educational programmes,” said Professor K K Lai, Associate Dean of the Faculty of Business.

CityU’s Faculty of Business introduced the First Year Learning Experience (FYLE) programme to all first-year Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) students in 2003/04. Recognized and commended as “a truly impressive programme which can be a model for other schools to benchmark” by the premier accrediting agency for business schools worldwide, the AACSB, the FYLE focuses on personalized instruction, integrated learning and embedded ethics education. The FB promotes ethical learning by incorporating the teaching of the principles of ethics into the BBA to develop students’ comprehension of five core values: integrity, responsibility, fairness, respect and compassion.


Enhancing the FYLE is "e-Organisation",  demonstrating that CityU not only emphasizes professional education, but also helps students put theory into practice. e-Organisation is an electronic representation of a fictitious department store, designed through the joint effort of all FB's departments. “The FB expands traditional departmental boundaries to provide integrated learning,” Professor Douglas  Vogel,  Professor (Chair)  in the Department of Information Systems (IS), said.

“Entry-level students typically have little understanding of how different organisations and their components interact. e-Organisation was designed to give such students an overall picture of an organisation, its components, its processes and data flows that work together to constitute effective business operations,” observed Professor Vogel. Already, e-Organisation has been provided to 2,000 FB students.


Using e-Organisation, students interact with the simulated store and holistically practise managing the operation of its various departments, such as the marketing & sales, accounting & finance, procurement & logistics, human resources, and information systems. To encourage student-centred learning, the Faculty provides all first-year BBA students with a Personalised Digital Assistant (PDA). “We want to give our students a personalised and rich learning experience. The PDA not only enables students in large classes to respond to their instructor's questions, but also provides them with instant feedback, making it a two-way class,” Dr Christian Wagner, Director of First Year Teaching and Learning, said.
The PDA is a wireless mini-computer that allows students to access the Internet. “With the PDA, we facilitate mobile learning outside classes. Students can gain access to their learning materials and instructional website, do their assignments and submit them to their instructors through the PDA. Most important of all, it enhances interactive learning,” Professor Lai remarked.

The FB also has instituted a Supplemental Instruction scheme (SI) that provides small-group learning support and guidance for first-year students to help them develop effective study skills and become more independent, proactive learners. With the SI, senior students with outstanding academic results and personal qualities are selected to serve as student leaders for groups of four to five students twice a week. Together, the leaders review course materials and share their learning strategies with the year-one students. “The SI has been warmly welcomed by student leaders and junior students alike, because the scheme is disciplined and effective,” said Dr Margaret Poon, SI Coordinator and Associate Professor in the Department of Accountancy.


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