Wharton 101 replaced Management 100 as the undergraduate school's introductory course for the first time last semester. The purpose of this shift was to create a less competitive environment for new Wharton students. And while many students say they enjoyed the relaxed environment and collaboration of the class, some also suggest there still may be room for improvement, specifically in its grading system and the final project.
Management 100 had been a required course for all Wharton undergraduates taken during the fall of their freshman year. A full-credit course, Management 100 students were graded on their individual contributions to a semester-long project in which teams of students partnered with outside organizations.
While many students say they enjoyed the class in the past, the competitive nature of the course, particularly its grading, drew criticism — prompting a redesigning of the curriculum.
“With collaboration being a major theme throughout Wharton, students wanted a more collaborative, less competitive environment," Wharton 101 teaching assistant Nagu Chidambaram said. “As a course first-semester freshmen take, Wharton 101 definitely provided an easier transition into Wharton and college life in general.”
Wharton 101, described by the website as Wharton's "gateway course to the leadership journey,” is a half-credit, pass or fail course, with a strong focus on personal growth and leadership style.
"As a full-credit, graded course, students feel pressure to perform in Management 100. Wharton 101, as a pass or fail course, takes the pressure off students and put it on instructors and TAs to keep the level of motivation and engagement high," said Deputy Director of the Wharton Leadership Program Anne Greenhalgh, who taught both Management 100 and Wharton 101.
Students agreed that the lectures taught by different professors were a great way to learn about the various concentrations and departments within Wharton.
“I really liked the accounting lecture in particular. It was interactive and I wouldn’t have even thought about that concentration beforehand,” Wharton freshman Jeriann Gumilla said.
In recitations, students engaged in activities designed to identify personal strengths and weaknesses.
“We did a lot of personality tests in the course and we would share them in groups. I thought the one about identifying personal implicit biases was very cool," Wharton freshman Jordyn Wilson said.
However, there were mixed opinions about whether the course actually fostered team collaboration.
“Because it was a pass or fail course, nobody had a sense of urgency or need to accomplish something beyond simply passing the course,” Wilson said. “The group dynamic was not as strong as it could’ve been.”
Engineering and Wharton freshman Will Morgus said while his group was very close, that wasn’t the case for every team.
“I feel like my team was unnaturally close compared to other groups. If they could encourage more friendship in the teams, I think it would have made the class a lot better for everyone as a whole," Morgus said.
Morgus cited lack of structure and the pass or fail system as a possible explanation for why the course wasn’t as collaborative as it could have been.
“I think the lack of structure led to most people not taking it seriously enough though at one point or another,” Morgus said. “Maybe a kind grading system as opposed to being pass-fail would help.”
As a TA, Chidambaram noticed that there was some general confusion about the expectations and the purpose of the course.
Specifically, students were confused about the final project which was a condensed model of the Management 100 project in the past.
“Students were supposed to work with clients for half of the semester, but it only ended up being the last few weeks.” Chidambaram said. “It was definitely a rush and students didn’t know what was going on.”
Because it’s a new course, Chidambaram said Wharton 101 is definitely planning on making adjustments based on the feedback they received.