26th Annual Colleagues in Jesuit Business Education Meeting
Preparing Students for the Competitive Analytics Job Market through the Five Principles of Ignatian Pedagogy, a Five-Step Analytics Framework, and a Personalized Portfolio Project
In the rapidly evolving landscape of the 21st century, Jesuit business education faces the challenge of preparing students for an increasingly competitive job market. This paper proposes a pedagogical approach that merges the principles of Ignatian pedagogy with a business analytics project to enable students to develop in-demand skills and enhance their employability. The approach is centered around a portfolio project, which offers students the opportunity to apply the five principles of Ignatian pedagogy – context, experience, reflection, action, and evaluation. While working with real-world data and associating it with an open business analytics job position, students can showcase their business acumen, technical hard skills, and soft skills to communicate their results. The project is a requirement for an SQL (Structured Query Language) elective course within an Information Systems and Business Analytics business major. SQL is a programming language used to manipulate data in a database and is an essential analytics tool to extract insights from data. The students are taught a 5-step business analytics framework: 1: Define the business problem 2: Collect and prepare the data 3: Analyze the data and generate insights 4: Communicate the results 5: Take action The project requires students to follow the five steps for an open-ended project that they design. The project begins with the context principle, which encourages students to understand the broader job market and find a job posting that aligns with their interests and skills. The job description must list SQL as a qualification. This contextual understanding enables students to tailor their project to the specific needs of potential employers and create a dataset relevant to the job posting. By working with real-world data, students gain valuable experience in using technology to collect and analyze information that matches the responsibilities and qualifications in the job description. Once the student identifies a job posting, they define a business problem relevant to the job. The business problem can address a responsibility listed in the job description or a plausible problem relevant to the company, the company's industry, or the role's business function. Reflection plays a crucial role in learning as students advance through the project. Students must make critical decisions about data collection methods, data cleaning, and analysis techniques, adapting their approach based on the available resources and data. Oftentimes, students pivot their business problem or data source when they encounter an unresolvable obstacle. The project emphasizes cura personalis, "care for the whole person," in the instructor's role as a guide and stakeholder in the proposed project, taking on the roles of an analytics manager, job recruiter, and career counselor to help students navigate the job market and develop their portfolio projects. The instructor helps facilitate the student's growth just as an effective manager would for their employee. The action principle is embodied in the practical application of the acquired skills to real-world situations. Students must learn how to use APIs (Application Programming Interface) and web scraping to collect data and apply their SQL knowledge to create valuable insights from the data. APIs, web scraping, and SQL are in-demand skills frequently seen in analytics job descriptions. The resulting portfolio project serves as a tangible demonstration of their ability to add value to an organization, increasing their employability in the job market. Finally, the evaluation principle is applied throughout the project as students assess the effectiveness of their learning process and the impact of their project on their job search. By reflecting on the skills gained, the challenges faced, and the ultimate outcomes, students can continually improve and adapt their approach to better prepare for future opportunities. By highlighting the project during interviews, students increase their likelihood of securing a job, even in the absence of pertinent work experience. This pedagogical approach unites Ignatian principles with a business analytics project, fostering in-demand skills and employability. Offering hands-on learning tailored to each student's interests, it highlights personalized care and attention. By applying a 5-step analytics framework with real-world data, students gain practical experience in end-to-end project building. This method readies students for both successful job searches and meaningful careers aligned with their values and goals.