Hot Topics in Hospitality Curriculum
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As we all know, the hospitality industry is dynamic, exciting and
full of opportunities. To succeed in the industry, one has to be willing to
adapt and balance a myriad of demands to keep up with customer and investors’
desires. Similarly, hospitality programs in colleges and universities across
the country must also adapt and balance industry demands in order to adequately
prepare graduates for the ebbs and flows of the marketplace. Some of the trends
we are seeing on our campus include:
business skills. Success in the hospitality industry requires a strong set of
business skills. In the hospitality curriculum, this translates into honing our
students’ human resource, finance, marketing, strategy, and leadership skills.
It is not only enough to teach these skills, educators are feeling more
pressure from accrediting agencies and governing bodies to assess students’
mastery of learning objectives. This has resulted in an increased focus on
certifications offered through organizations such as CVENT, Smith Travel
Research, and the American Hotel and Lodging Association. As I speak with alumni, it appears as though
the certification trend is carrying over into the professional community as we
are experiencing increased interest CMP, CHA, CHIA and graduate
and team-based learning. The way we teach students continues to evolve. While the
traditional lecture courses still exist, we are seeing a shift away from the
traditional "sage on the stage" approach to teaching. Throughout the
curriculum, it is important to incorporate experiential learning opportunities.
Hands-on learning is essential to students’ mastery of material. To support the
experiential learning process, programs across the country have incorporated
student-operated restaurants into the curriculum. More recently, a growing
number of schools are partnering with lodging entities to operate hotel
facilities on campus.
complement the experiential learning process, we are placing greater emphasis
on team-based learning. The focus on team-based learning to some extent is in
response to the demands of hospitality recruiters who repeatedly stress the
importance of effectively working on a team. Research shows that peer-to-peer
interaction is one of the most influential factors in student learning.
Typically, team-based learning involves completing a team project, paper, case or event. In team-based learning, students have the chance to learn and share
the content together. Additionally, team-based learning allows students the
opportunity to learn how to navigate the intricacies of team dynamics.
graduation and job placement rates. In business, revenue growth does not
necessarily translate into financial success as it is only one piece of the
puzzle. In hospitality education, we face a similar situation. Increases in
student enrollment, do not automatically translate into student success. The
current environment requires that we not only increase our student enrollment,
but do so while also increasing the graduation and job placement rates of our
student. This means offering a relevant, industry-driven curriculum,
streamlining students’ progression through the educational process, and working
with two-year institutions to ensure a seamless transfer of credits into four-year
institutions. Most importantly, it means educators must be in constant communication
with industry professionals to ensure we are providing students with the
knowledge, skills and abilities to succeed.
How can KCMPI help? While each of the trends noted are individually important, their
true power is when they work together. This is where you can help as industry
professionals. The industry knowledge you provide to academia is invaluable as
it helps us gage that we are staying current with the demands of the market.
Additionally, the internship opportunities you provide to our students are a
critical component of the experiential learning process and allow students to
apply the business skills learned in class to a real-world setting. The bottom
line is when academia and industry combine hospitality education thrives.
Stephanie Hein is the Interim Department Head of the Hospitality & Restaurant Administration in
Missouri State University. She can be reached at 417-836-5159 or StephanieHein@missouristate.edu.