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Students’ views on the incorporation of commercial awareness in real estate education

Joanna Poon (School of Management and Marketing, Faculty of Business and Law, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia)
Michael Brownlow (School of Management and Marketing, Faculty of Business and Law, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia)

Property Management

ISSN: 0263-7472

Article publication date: 12 August 2014

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Abstract

Purpose –

The purpose of this paper is to review how real estate students perceive and define commercial awareness, which is one of the most important employability skills. This paper also examines students’ perceptions about how their courses support and develop their commercial awareness. In addition, it compares students’ and academics’ views on commercial awareness and identifies whether there are any gaps.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper presents the research findings of a questionnaire survey and e-mail discussions with students who are currently studying Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)-accredited real estate courses in the UK. The questionnaire aimed to gather students’ views on the definitions and components of commercial awareness and identify what skills and attributes are required for its development. It also evaluates how commercial awareness has been embedded in the real estate courses. The aim of each discussion was to gain deeper insight on how components of commercial awareness are embedded in real estate courses, and 17 discussions were conducted. The contents of the e-mail discussions were analysed and similar themes were identified and coded. The frequency of the answer in the questionnaire and comments from interviewees is presented. The findings from students’ views have been compared to published research reporting UK RICS-accredited real estate course providers’ views on commercial awareness. In addition to descriptive statistics, Fisher's exact test was used to identify the statistical significance between the academics’ and students’ views on commercial awareness.

Findings

The UK real estate students agreed that the most important definition of commercial awareness is a “person's ability to understand the economics of business”. They agreed that “financial” component is the most important component of commercial awareness and it is the largest portion of their courses. The most important skill and attribute for commercial awareness development are “critical thinking” and “ability and willingness to update professional knowledge”, respectively. Although the descriptive analysis shows students and academics have different views on the definition and components of commercial awareness and its incorporation within real estate courses, the Fisher exact test shows that only a few elements are different enough to be statistically significant. This analysis shows that while students and academics have slightly different views on commercial awareness they are not very different. Commercial awareness is an important employability skill, thus, it is still necessary for real estate academics to re-visit the curriculum and to ensure learning outcomes related to commercial awareness have been clearly explained and communicated to students. Furthermore, it is vital for students to obtain practical experience in order to fully develop their commercial awareness.

Originality/value

This paper is a pioneer study focused on reviewing real estate students’ views on commercial awareness, including identifying its definition, components and evaluating the extent to which commercial awareness has been embedded in their courses. It also identifies the skills and attributes that students thought were required for the development of commercial awareness. Furthermore, it discusses students’ preferred ways of enhancing their commercial awareness as part of the course they are studying. It is the first study identifying the statistical difference between students’ and academics’ views on commercial awareness. The understanding of students’ views on commercial awareness, their preferred delivery method and the divergence between students’ and academics’ views on commercial awareness can provide useful insights for course directors on the development and renewal of real estate course curriculum.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Research Trust's funding for this project. The authors would also like to express sincere gratitude to Dr Richard Stevens for his research assistance, and Paul Royston from Nottingham Trent University, for his input on the initial development of the research idea. The authors would also like to thank the academics who completed the questionnaires and those who agreed to be interviewed.

Citation

Poon, J. and Brownlow, M. (2014), "Students’ views on the incorporation of commercial awareness in real estate education", Property Management, Vol. 32 No. 4, pp. 326-351. https://doi.org/10.1108/PM-07-2013-0040

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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