{EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING} at Roberts

Business and Strategic Marketing

page29-1Competition in the higher-education sector is tough, and it’s not enough to offer only experiential-learning opportunities. It’s important to note that Roberts has been a leader in this area by addressing the unique needs of adult graduate learners for the past two decades, long before its competitors. Professor William Todd of Roberts Wesleyan’s Department of Business points out that “as a national leader in non-traditional, time-shortened, adult-oriented programs, Roberts Wesleyan has had much experience integrating experiential learning into degree-completion and graduate degree programs.”

This approach has real-world professional value and flows throughout our undergraduate and graduate program philosophies by providing concrete opportunities for our students to impact the community around them.

One such example at the graduate level is that of our Masters of Strategic Marketing (MSMK) program, which provides students the opportunity to develop integrated marketing plans for local small-business customers.

“This speaks directly to the applied nature of our MSMK program,” Associate Professor of Marketing Laura Falco said. “Students learn marketing strategies one day and add value to their clients and their employers the next day by applying those strategies. This hands-on approach differentiates our program and really sets our graduates apart.”

The Charles Finney School, a private Christian school (K-12) in Penfield, N.Y., is a current “client” of Roberts’ MSMK program. “These types of plans, when created by an outside firm, have a price tag that is completely out of reach for a small Christian school, but private-school education in our region is very competitive and requires us to elevate our brand,” Finney Director of Advancement Sheila Roman said. “Roberts’ MSMK group is a win-win for both Roberts students and for The Charles Finney School because the students are gaining valuable hands-on experience working with a client, while we gain from their expertise.”

Finney Principal Mike VanLeeuwen ’83 lauded the program, calling its application of research partnered with the community “learning at its very best.”

And not only does Roberts equip students with real-world learning gained through experience, it helps students develop the character values necessary to apply those skills in a meaningful way.

“Students may be able to access some of these experiences at other colleges, but it’s how we process these experiences at Roberts that is different, because it’s done through a faith lens,” Chaplain Jonathan Bratt said.

This spiritual formation has such an impact on character that Professors Bill Todd, Steve Bovee, Marcia O’Brien and Ervin Starr, of Roberts’ Department of Business, published a study in the spring 2013 volume of the Christian Business Academy Review. Their study looked at how experiential learning can serve as a strategic approach for student transformation. In it, they measured the progressive positive impact an integrated experiential-learning model has had on specific characteristics in Roberts’ students over the past decade. The characteristics were hope and courage, integrity, personal excellence, servant leadership and teamwork skills — traits not always readily found in today’s marketplace. Indeed, it is these traits — in conjunction with a liberal-arts foundation — that embody “the Roberts Difference.” A difference evident in the lengthy list of businesses that employ Roberts graduates, as well as the number of prestigious graduate schools that attract Roberts alumni.