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The long and winding road: Problems in developing capabilities in an undergraduate commerce degree

Angelito Calma (Williams Centre for Learning Advancement, University of Melbourne, Carlton, Australia)

International Journal of Educational Management

ISSN: 0951-354X

Article publication date: 8 May 2017




The purpose of this paper is to provide an analysis of specific learning outcomes in an undergraduate commerce degree in a large research-intensive university in Australia.


It uses data collected from assurance of learning activities as part of Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business accreditation. A total of 267 assessments were marked using nine different rubrics in nine different subjects. It assessed six learning outcomes.


Results indicate that a number of skills deficits exist among commerce students’ application of mathematical tools, analysis of business issues or problems, demonstration and application of theories, models or concepts, describing alternative methods of analysis, and generating supported conclusions or solutions, and analysing the research of others. These findings tell us that there are a number of higher order thinking skills that students need to develop when they pursue a commerce degree. It also creates a challenge for universities to foster an environment where these skills are developed in the curriculum.

Practical implications

The wider implications to higher education include a reconsideration of the purpose of the commerce degree, the importance of feedback from various stakeholders (e.g. alumni, employers) to inform the commerce curriculum, and the range of learning experiences that develop these skills. More importantly, this study has identified specific skills deficits across the broad generic skills embedded in the commerce degree. It can assist academic staff and program managers in planning for future curriculum improvements as they see fit in the context of their own commerce programs.


This is a novel contribution in that it provides specific assessment of skills deficits in business undergraduate education.



Calma, A. (2017), "The long and winding road: Problems in developing capabilities in an undergraduate commerce degree", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 31 No. 4, pp. 418-429.



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