At Baruch College in New York City, Professor of Economics Ted Joyce directs the Zicklin Online Learning and Evaluation (ZOLE) program, which promotes and supports the use of technology at the institution. “We interpret technology broadly, from courses delivered purely online to the use of Excel® in a traditional classroom format,” says Professor Joyce. “The unifying theme is the application of new technologies to engage students, build skills, save resources, and advance learning.” One of those technologies is SAM (Skills Assessment Manager), an online environment for Microsoft Office®.

Professor Joyce managed a semester-long study of SAM’s online Excel® module, which had been used at Baruch for three terms. Participants were students in four business courses: Financial Accounting, Managerial Accounting, Service Operations Management, and Principles of Finance. Enrollment in SAM was 3,795 students out of 4,444 students registered for the four classes, an 85.3% participation rate.

SAM was chosen to help achieve a straightforward goal: ensure that all students in core business courses developed functional capability with Excel. Participants completed 14 SAM assignments on building Excel spreadsheets, and practiced skills such as essential formatting, using formulas, graphing, pivot tables, and basic macros.

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