This spring, students played a role in shaping the future of the Wharton School’s undergraduate curriculum.
Approximately 30 students and three professors took part in a half-credit pilot course of intended to be a trial run for the new program that will replace Management 100 as the school’s introductory course starting in the fall.
Scott Romeika, the director of academic affairs and advising at Wharton, said he hopes Wharton 101 will give students exposure to different fields of business, introduce them to leadership and inspire them to reflect on their own academic and co-curricular development and strengths.
“The point of the pilot is to make sure we have a good proof of concept and learn from that as we roll out the new curriculum,” Romeika said. “We have to make sure we kick the tires and it all runs well.”
Wharton freshman Victoria Warner enjoyed Management 100 and enrolled in the Wharton 101 pilot to get a glimpse into how the curriculum was being changed.
“I had a really great experience with Management 100,” Warner said. “My team was very close — we held birthday parties for each other.”
However, Warner is aware that other students did not have the same positive experience.
“I know some people had difficulties working within their team,” Warner continued. “That was a stress for some people, so I think for Wharton 101, they really tried to eliminate the competitive nature of Management 100.”
Management 100, currently a required course for all Wharton undergraduates, focuses heavily on experiential learning — teams of students partner with outside organizations on a semester-long project, during which team members are graded on their individual management contributions.
Warner thought the pilot placed a stronger emphasis on personal growth and collaboration, citing surveys taken in the class.
“They were more conscious about picking the surveys that were going to be most helpful for students,” Warner said. “They want you to be able to see things you might not have noticed about yourself yet, and see how that plays into your leadership style.”
The pilot course also featured presentations on the different Wharton concentrations.
“This was extremely helpful, because we got to see more of what they actually do in the real world and the problems they face,” Warner said. “It helped me to decide which way I want to look for my concentration.”
With more class time spent on these concentration presentations, less time was devoted to project work.
“Even though we worked with groups, we didn’t spend a lot of time with them,” Wharton freshman Stefanie Williams said.
Warner agreed that the project in the pilot was particularly “low-key” and said the majority of work was done in class.
“It was very different from Management 100 where we spent hours upon hours outside of class with our teammates,” Warner said.
Warner hopes the new curriculum will reach a middle ground between the strong team-building aspects of Management 100 and the collaborative, less stressful focus of the Wharton 101 pilot.
“We are being very deliberate about the questions we are asking students to answer and the projects they’re doing,” Romeika said. “We want to get that right.”
Although Romeika appreciates how the Management 100 project engages students in the community, he does not want to see other parts of the course overshadowed.
“It’s not so much about the project as it is about the process,” he said. “We don’t want the project to be the most dominant piece of the course.”
While Warner had a positive experience in Management 100, she believes that Wharton 101 has the potential to be even more beneficial for students going forward.
“Wharton 101 will be effective because it will allow people to see the options that they have for their career while learning about their personal leadership style,” she said. “I think it’s really important to see both of those things, especially for incoming freshmen who don’t yet have a clear idea of what they want to do.”
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