Leveraging Partnerships with Local Companies as a Method of Teaching Sales: A Constructivist Approach


Avioral learning or 'teaching students how to behave' is an important challenge in a sales class. This study illustrates how constructivist learning theory contributed to the development of a redesigned sales emphasis, with a goal of improving behavioral learning and other outcomes. The redesigned emphasis comprises a single, 9 credit hour course and is now in its fourth year of being offered. Qualitative results indicate some clear benefits have resulted from this pedagogical approach, as perceived by students and employers. The study also assesses downsides of the approach, which are also important to consider when evaluating whether to pursue curriculum changes. Method/Design and Sample: A brief survey was given to sales and marketing professionals to better understand if using constructivist learning in the sales classroom was an appropriate change. Following the change, in-depth interviews were conducted with employers who had been involved with both prior and new curriculum designs. Respondents were also selected to participate based on being familiar with sales curriculums offered by other universities. Input was also gathered from students who had completed the redesigned program and student evaluations were evaluated, comparing the new course design to the prior course design. Results: Compared to the prior version of the sales curriculum, the redesigned curriculum appears to perform better in three important ways. First, the redesigned curriculum helped overcome three main problems that motivated the curriculum change. Second, while exceptions exist, professionals largely view the redesigned curriculum as being superior to curriculums offered at other universities in terms of four constructivist learning areas. Lastly, students seem to prefer the change, as evidenced by an improvement in instructor evaluations following the change, holding the instructor constant. A major downside of the redesign is the added time needed to logistically work with the professionals who now play a strong coaching role in the class. Value to Marketing Educators: This redesigned curriculum can provide value to educators in a variety of ways. First, it illustrates a sales education method that helps students launch their sales careers with a significant understanding of practical sales matters. Moreover, in a public university setting where state funds are shrinking, leveraging resources from local businesses is important, and the redesigned curriculum helps building corporate partnerships. Lastly, this shift in marketing education appears to be a success in terms of student satisfaction.


Business and Information Technology

Keywords and Phrases

Constructivist; Corporate partnerships; Sales education

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1537-5137; 2326-3296

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2016 Marketing Management Association, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Mar 2016

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