Six action figures stand together as a group in a line

A Group Research Project in 6 Parts (Marketing)

Activity aim: Team work and collaboration; conducting marketing research; peer review

Materials: See below

Time estimated: See below

Prep for teacher: See below

Note: This series of 6 activities are distinct steps in a group research project that amounts to 30% of the student’s final grade. In previous semesters the group research project was the outcome of group work. Lately, I’ve redone the group project. It is now composed on mostly INDIVIDUAL contributions. The “group” aspect of the work is the collaboration and discussion among the group members as they prepare to submit their individual contributions.

Unlike previous semesters, there is NO “final group paper”. Rather, the submitted work represents the group’s “portfolio”.

Step #1 (5%): Choosing a Marketing Phenomenon

Activity aim: Students identify a marketing idea or phenomenon that they are curious about.
Materials needed: Each student needs access to Blackboard.
Time: 20-30 minutes (or more)

Activity Description:
Each student submits a description of a specific idea or phenomenon in marketing that you find interesting. Make it descriptive: the more specific and close to real life the better. Do not analyze the description. The analysis part belongs to a later step.

Step #2 (3%): Selecting a Topic

Group decides which marketing idea or phenomenon will form the basis of the group paper. You could choose a “winning” description or create a new one. One group member copies and pastes the text of the winning idea or phenomenon to the group’s forum on Blackboard (not SafeAssign).

Step #3 (5%): Active note taking, conducting academic research

Each student chooses a different peer-reviewed article to explore the key details of the idea or phenomenon that was chosen in Step #2.

Submit a short paper (1-2 pages) about how the article explains the key details of the idea or phenomenon. Provide a full citation / reference for the article: Author(s), title, journal, volume, pages, year of publication in any style. Note: I don’t expect the article that you’ve chosen to explain ALL the key details equally well. Not at all. Indeed, your paper should point to places where the article explains the key details of the idea / phenomenon well, and places where it falls short.

(As you can see below, we’ll explore the criteria that inform our judgment of whether an article explains an idea / phenomenon well in Steps #5 and #6. To put this challenge in simple terms: You’ve a situation and then you have an explanation. How do you know when the explanation truly explains the situation? We’ve began to address this challenge in the poster conference worksheet, when we analyzed how well two articles explain a marketing-related scenario).

Step #4 (6%): Peer-t0-Peer Instruction; Reflection

Contribute to another group: read the summaries of the articles of the group assigned to you. Each student contributes to another group (members of Group 1 help Group 2, Group 2 help Group 3… members of Group 11 help Group 1).

Read and summarize another peer-reviewed article that the group has not read and summarized. The new article can be by one (or more) of the authors that someone in that group has read. Make sure that the article is somehow relevant to the group’s topic. Provide a full citation (in any style or format) of the article.

Discuss how this additional peer-reviewed article contributes to the group’s idea or phenomenon.

[Tip #1: Go to the reference section / bibliography of the article that someone in that group has read. The author(s) likely mention other articles that they have written in the reference section]

[Tip #2: If the group you’re contributing to has NOT read a peer-reviewed article, find one that is relevant to them by reading up on their topic in Steps #1 and #2]

[Tip #3: When reading a peer-reviewed article, locate the paragraphs in the introduction and conclusion where the authors summarize their thesis. The thesis or main argument is based on evidence. Locate in the article the paragraphs were authors share the evidence. What is their evidence?]

Step #5 (6%): Peer-t0-Peer Instruction; Reflection; Group Work

Activity aim: Students think more deeply about the fit between the group’s chosen marketing idea or phenomenon and peer-reviewed articles. Again, students learn that peer-reviewed articles address ideas and phenomena about which they are curious.

Materials needed: Computer access to Blackboard and Baruch’s online library.

Time: 2 hours (or more)

Activity Description: Back in your original group, address any improvement if any to the idea or phenomenon that colleagues might have offered to your group in Step #4, rejecting or accepting their suggestions. Read all the papers in the group forum, and, if necessary, the original peer-reviewed articles and related articles. Working together, sort the articles by how well they explain the idea or phenomenon that you decided on in Step #2. Together, write down the criteria you employed to sort the articles (by criteria I mean the rules or principles that led you to rank the articles). One group member should then post the sorted list of articles and the criteria by which you sorted them, along with a short definition of each criterion, on the group’s forum on Blackboard (not SafeAssign).

Step #5, part II (6%): Review the Reviews

1.Read the summaries of the peer-reviewed articles that have been submitted to your group forum in Steps #3 and #4. If necessary, read the original peer-reviewed articles. Then sort the articles (not the summaries) by how well they define and explain your group’s idea or phenomenon.

2. Identify the criteria you employed to rank the articles. You might have identified 4 criteria to prioritize 6-8 articles. You may apply more than one criterion per article.

Here are the essential elements of Step #5:

  • Identify the phenomenon or idea (if this is an individual submission, you don’t have to be in agreement with your group members)
  • Provide a full reference for each article: author(s), title, journal, volume, pages and year (any citation style is fine)
  • List the article by rank. You might assign the same rank to one, two or more articles.
  • Explain why you have assigned a particular rank to an article. Draw on details from the article to justify the ranking.
    • For example, if an article is “comprehensive” explain the content points that make the article “comprehensive”.
    • If an article explores one aspect of the phenomenon, identify the aspect that it explores, explain how that aspect is related to the idea or phenomenon
  • List the criteria that you’ve used to classify the articles

[Tip #1: Before you ranking the articles, carefully define the group’s idea or phenomenon]

[Tip #2: An article that does not mention the business or organization that the group is working work can still be very relevant]

[Tip #3: Before you rank the articles by how well they define and explain the group’s idea or phenomenon, you might want to do the following exercise: Pick a paragraph from the textbook at random. The small numbers at the end of some of the sentences (superscripts) in the paragraph refer to endnotes at the back of the book. The endnotes identify the articles (sources / references / bibliography) that the paragraph draws upon. Look at the endnotes and the text that they link to and support in to the paragraph. Which sources are essential, supporting the most important ideas in the paragraph? Which sources are less important? What criteria informs your judgment of what is important and what is LESS important? These criteria might also be relevant when you work on Step #5b]

Note: If you wish, you can collaborate with one or more members of your group members, and submit a joint paper.

Step #6 (5%): Peer-t0-Peer Instruction; Reflection

Each student contributes insights to another group (members of Group 1 help Group 2, Group 2 help Group 3, members of Group 11 help Group 1).

Which if any of the criteria that members of your group have identified in Step #5 could help this other group? Each member of the group writes a 1-page analysis.

[ This assignment simulates a common task at work: applying best practices to new contexts ]

Note: If you wish, you can collaborate with one or more members of your group members, and submit a joint paper. Remember to include all your names on the paper.

This activity was developed by Amitai Touval as part of the Baruch College Center for Teaching and Learning Summer Seminar on Active Learning.

Image credit: JD Hancock

Leave a Reply