Deca Research Paper

Teaching through DECA’s written events

Writing a 30-page research paper can be intimidating to a high school student. Imagine an entire class writing them at once.

Although sometimes overwhelmed by research papers as well, experienced DECA advisors have developed strategies to incorporate DECA’s written events into classroom instruction.

DECA’s written events increase relevance of learning by providing practical experiences for students, and they provide rigor by requiring high-level critical thinking and problem solving skills. Through the written entry and presentation, students also develop academic skills.

Stephanie Williams, a 10-year DECA advisor from Cameron, Mo., and her students experienced exponential success after implementing a strategy to incorporate written events into the instructional areas of her marketing and management classes. DECA’s written events became the vehicle for instruction rather than just a competition entry.

Setting the Stage

Williams begins the school year explaining her expectations and sharing the types of DECA’s Business Operations Research Events and Chapter Team Events. She provides an overview of the written entry so her students see the big picture — the final project. For example, she encourages them to start a list of sources at the beginning of the process. In just four months, her students are surprised that they completed a 30-page paper and complementary presentation.

Once they have an understanding of the events, students brainstorm local businesses that would be a good fit and possible activities for chapter team events. Students then select partners, the type of event and a local business or event.

Behind the Scenes

Once she receives the DECA Guide, Williams matches the event’s objectives with her course’s competencies (performance indicators) and the appropriate section of the written entry. She then develops learning activities and time lines for each section.

Learning Activities

After the students have identified business partners for their projects, for example, they compose a business letter that explains the project, asks for their collaboration and requests an opportunity to meet.

The students also develop interview questions, knowing that they will need much of this information to complete sections of the Business Operations Research Event. These activities review and reinforce effective communication skills.

Likewise, after discussing market segmentation, which might include a guest speaker from the Chamber of Commerce, Williams has a guided learning activity that requires the students to provide a description of their community. After answering questions requesting information on geographics, demographics, and socioconomic and economic factors — key terms and concepts they just learned — students have already completed one section.

She provides similar activities for each section of the written entry. The students complete each section of the project without an overwhelming burden.

The culminating tasks include combining the pieces into a final report, developing the presentation and writing the executive summary. “It must absolutely rock,” Williams said of the executive summary.

Often times, polishing for competition requires additional “DECA project time” after school. Williams makes herself available at scheduled times more frequently as the deadlines near. Williams and her students live by the motto of the six P’s — proper prior preparation prevents poor performance.

Industry Involvement

Williams believes strong involvement from businesses is key in the learning process. “The students get a network of community professionals that get to know them,” Williams said. “It also presents the students in a positive light.”

Assessment

“It’s easy. I use the scoring guide provided by DECA,” Williams said recognizing that it is ultimately what will be used to evaluate the project at CDC.

The Ultimate Outcome

“I take the approach that I am preparing my students for college,” said Williams. “I want them to compete and be proud, but when they go to college, I want them to know how to organize data, analyze research and format a paper.”

One of Williams’ international finalists, now a junior in college, recently returned to share that as a store associate, he was tapped to make a presentation on market expansion at the large retail corporation’s headquarters. He used Mrs. Williams’ outline. The executives were impressed and asked which college course taught him how to do this. With a grin, Williams explains, “He told me he said, ‘I didn’t learn how to do this in college. I learned in my high school marketing class and DECA.’”

Comments

DECA currently uses seven different exams for its competitive events. Please keep in mind that each state makes independent decisions regarding specific uses of each exam.  New comprehensive, multiple-choice exams are developed each year and are based on the most recent update of the national standards. 

Role plays used by DECA are not provided by MBA Research.  Questions regarding these aspects of the competitive events should be directed to state advisors. For online testing, contact MBA Research. To order paper/pencil exams, contact National DECA.

Click here for the complete document of DECA Test Specifications 2017-2018 and general information.

For a complete listing of performance indicators (competencies) used by DECA for its 2017-2018 competitive events, click here. 

  • All exams are 100-item, multiple-choice.  True/False and combination items (e.g., A & B are correct) are generally not used. 

  • Tests are designed with test discrimination in mind.  The design is intended to encourage a broad range of student scores, minimizing the occurrence of “clusters” of students near the top. This approach results in lower overall scores, but makes the results more valid and reliable in terms of identifying “winners.”

  • All exams are fully independent of one another. There will be little or no overlapping use of questions among exams used in competition. There will be no overlap between sample exams and those used in competition.

  • Item selection is based on the national MBA Research standards. With the exception of the district and state level exams for the “Principles” events for first-year DECA members, exams are based on performance indicators at or below the specialist level (Curriculum Planning Levels).  District and state exams for the “Principles” event are based on the prerequisite and career-sustaining level indicators.

  • Items are prorated across all eligible performance indicators so that each instructional area (e.g., promotion) is represented in proportion to the total of all performance indicators.  For example, if there were a total of 200 indicators in a particular list, and 25 of them were from the promotion area, there would be approximately 12 or 13 promotion items on the exam.

  • For some events, DECA has added performance indicators for use in the participating portion of the event (role plays).  These additional indicators are not used in the exams.

  • Items for district and state-level exams include a mix of new and revised (previously used) items.  All items are reviewed each year, and updated as appropriate.  Although items are pulled from a large test-item bank, some may have appeared in other products, including other exams, LAP modules, or practice activities.  However, although many items for a given performance indicator may sound similar to students, the actual reuse of items in any given year is quite small.  (The item bank exceeds 30,000.)

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