This article appeared on the Purdue Entrepreneurship and Innovation site in December.
The Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program and Purdue Libraries have worked together since the launch of the entrepreneurship program in 2005. Given that certificate courses are designed to teach students how to turn their innovative ideas into action, an important element of the curriculum is learning how to conduct market research. Purdue University Libraries subscribes to over 600 databases, many of which focus on market research. Libraries Professors, Hal Kirkwood and Ilana Stonebraker, give presentations in certificate program courses each semester to show students how to use these resources effectively.
Stonebraker said the way they approach teaching entrepreneurship program students is different than how they would teach a business class. Certificate students tend to be more creative and driven to build whatever it is they’re passionate about. “Students in the certificate program often have a passionate story behind why they are in the program,” Stonebraker said. “When I work with students who have a passion for something, I find that they take the information and use it to be impactful. They are not only looking at how the numbers can be crunched and the most money can be made, but they also take into account creativity, impact, and what changes need to happen to be successful.”
Kirkwood said when he presents to the students, he starts with a broad picture and narrows the research down in steps. “I start with a framework of business information which sets the stage of how information flows from business to industry,” Kirkwood said. “I take students through how to find the information from a big picture setting all the way to an individual’s buying habits. This process is not something students are familiar with. They typically don’t know how much they can learn from market research. This realization changes the way students approach their projects.”
Mike Cassidy, Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Instructor, said the material presented is practical and directly related to course assignments. “The market research presentation is based on examples of how to utilize the tools Libraries offers to students, rather than a rundown of what those offerings are. Hal will perform research as someone who wants to start a business. He utilizes all of the appropriate databases for industry research, competitor research, consumer preferences and buying behaviors. This process is directly related to the methodology required for the next class project.”
Beyond class presentations, Kirkwood and Stonebraker teach MGMT 17500 which is focused on information strategies and is an approved course for the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
Cassidy said it is good that the students have an additional opportunity to be exposed to using library resources. “It is better if they can get more instruction in all of the aspects of doing deep research with a variety of objectives and utilizing a wider variety of resources. Thus this one hour, eight-week course offers a deeper dive for those students who feel it is appropriate for their career objectives. Making it an option course for the certificate program was a smart move for entrepreneurship students.”
Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation students often participate in the Parrish Library Case Competition. This yearly competition is for undergraduate students who solve problems for a company using their business research skills.
Cassidy has been a judge for the competition and said it is a rewarding experience, “Students are highly motivated to learn and win. They take the case seriously and do good work in finding solutions. It is a pleasure to learn their thought processes and to then offer guidance on how to think things through a little differently whenever appropriate.”
Outside of the partnership, Stonebraker said many students follow up to discuss research further. “Oftentimes after class presentations Hal and I meet with certificate students to help them on projects they are working on outside of class. We are excited to help these students. Research has the power to change how people make business decisions. Add that to the passion certificate students have and the result is significant. It is great to be part of that.”