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Watch for changes when taking care of business

Robert Lee October 04, 2010The Age

BUSINESS MANAGEMENTRobert Lee says students will need to be adaptable if they wish to do well. In 2010 students will face an exam with subtle but important differences from the Business Management exams of the past. Exam assessment reportA recurring theme in the Exam Assessment Report is the need for students to adapt their answers to suit the stimulus material in the case studies provided. Many students rote-learn answers.However, this often results in theory not being applied in a relevant manner. Typical types of questions where this problem occurs include: Motivation ( Maslow..,)and Change Management ( Kotter..,) theory questions where students list the steps of the theory but do not link them to the case study. Management skills and management roles (POLC) type questions where students explain the skills and roles in detail but do not explain their use to the manager in the case study. Human Resource Management strategy questions ( Doing things..,) where a student recommends a strategy that is inappropriate to the situation in the case study. An example of this was Question 2b in the 2008 exam when many students recommended hiring new staff despite the company in the case study needing to downsize. Where links need to be made between one area of the course and another. An example is Question 1f from the 2009 exam:"Describe three management skills that a participative manager could use. Discuss how the new plant manager at Johnson Automotive could apply each of these skills to the current situation."Here management skills need to be applied to management styles. Students need to name and define each skill but then relate it to the situation the plant manager is experiencing. An example of a good response for one skill would be:"Communication is the transfer of information from one party to another. The plant manager will need clear and effective communication so workers understand the reasons for changes that occur and also how their daily work tasks may alter. Communication also involves listening. The 'participative' plant manager should listen to workers who may have ideas about how productivity at the plant could be improved."Important changes for 2010Students must be mindful as they revise previous exams that there are a number of important changes to the 2010 course and some of the information they may read from previous years could be unsuitable for the 2010 exam. Major changes this year include: The exam now being worth 65 marks. Students are advised to allocate their time carefully. A suggestion is to check after one hour (that will be 4.15pm) that at least 35 marks worth of questions have been answered. The inclusion of a 10 mark question. This question will cover key knowledge and key skills dot points from Unit 4, Area of study 2, The management of change. 2010 was on driving \ restraining forces. The specification of a change management theory; The Kotter Theory. In past exams any recognised change management theory was acceptable. In 2010 the Kotter theory must be used. Previous Exam Assessment Reports and model answers still refer to other theories such as the Lewin Model. These should be ignored. The specification of motivation theories: Maslow, Hertzberg and Locke. Again, only these should be discussed in the 2010 exam. "Induction" is now a part of the maintenance stage of the employment cycle Naming of key terms in the study design that must be revised thoroughly. This includes specific performance indicators, management styles, driving and restraining forces.Students are advised to review the sample exam questions that have been published on the VCAA website which show the type of questions that may be asked about the new content of the study.Exam essentials checklistThis list outlines important areas for students to focus on. It is not comprehensive but offers an excellent guide to the main areas that will be examined.Can you: Outline features, advantages and disadvantages of each management style List, define and apply up to six management skills Name, define and apply each management role (POLC) List and describe five human resource strategies List and describe the four operations management strategies Name and provide examples of each element of an operations system Name and apply a range of performance indicators Discuss change management using a significant change issue and apply it to an organisation you have studied. Describe, compare and contrast each of the motivation theories Apply each motivation theory to case studies Outline each stage of the Kotter Change Management theory and apply it to various case studies. Describe each level of planning. Compare and contrast a decentralised system of employee relations with a centralised system. Explain advantages of both. Outline examples of ethical and socially responsible behaviour of an organisation you have studiedHow can parents help?Business Management is a subject that every parent can offer some assistance with. Engage your child in discussion about topics they are studying. It can provoke interest in the subject and enhance their understanding of key concepts. Your own business experiences may also be useful in the exam as students often need to provide examples. Quiz your child on the exam essentials shown above.Robert Lee is an experienced VCE assessor.