Many potential employers expect that newly hired students will arrive on-the-job with the ability to analyze data, utilize spreadsheets, and communicate findings and recommendations. We designed the Ocean State Circuits, Inc. Forecasting Project to address these gaps in our students’ knowledge of analytical tools (such as the vlookup() function and pivot tables), their ability to write mathematical formulas in a spreadsheet, their understanding of more advanced data analysis features (e.g. regression, correlation), and their ability to communicate and present managerial conclusions. The exercise requires student teams to act as “consultants” and utilize spreadsheets to analyze and forecast the demand for a hypothetical set of products and then communicate their findings to “management” in a professionally formatted report document. A survey of students that have completed the exercise indicates that their knowledge level of the tools used in the project increased significantly from before to after they completed the case. Similarly, anecdotal feedback from employers has suggests that students that have completed the exercise seem more capable of dissecting data when investigating business issues.
Kroes, James R.; Chen, Yuwen; and Mangiameli, Paul. (2013). "Improving Students' Data Analysis and Presentation Skills: The Ocean State Circuits, Inc. Forecasting Project". Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, 11(2), 165–174. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dsji.12004