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Textbook to Reality: Using Corporate Earnings Reports as an Effective Teaching Tool for a Business Capstone Course

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Document pages: 6 pages

Abstract: Business curriculums in many universities now include a senior Capstone course that integrates topics or materials from all business areas. This capstone course is designed to teach the skills of strategic thinking and analysis rather than mere facts or concepts. With that goal in mind, the ideal course is structured in such a way so that students get an opportunity to apply their knowledge from all previous courses taken before the capstone course. Instructors around the country use a variety of teaching tools in a capstone course that include simulation games, group projects, individual projects or paper, and or case studies. One of the effective teaching tools in a capstone course is quarterly or annual earnings reports submitted to the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) by all publicly traded companies. Although earnings reports are used by some instructors as a reference or as part of a case study, it has not been widely used in a way that is demonstrated in this paper. The earnings reports have a rich array of information that can be used to teach business concepts from every business discipline--accounting, economics, finance, human resource management, international business, or marketing. Going through a detailed earnings report exposes students to a real world scenario, teaches them how to read between the lines, and enhances their critical and strategic thinking process. It is also a great way to brush up their knowledge from all previous courses which helps them to retain the knowledge and to do well on the business exit exam. This paper demonstrates an approach or method where students use business concepts, theories, financial ratios, and formulas using actual company data from an annual Earnings Report of a company submitted to the SEC. The idea presented here is not mutually exclusive of other tools used in a capstone course but rather contributes to learning if can be used simultaneously.

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