A Collaborative Term Project in Consumer Science

Author: 
Irena Vida
Description: 
Professor Irena Vida explain the requirements of a group term paper and presentation. Note that although she gives no explicit directions regarding how the group should divide responsibilities, she does ask students to report back on the contribution of each group member to the final project.

This team project assignment consists of a descriptive and historical account of a major U.S. retail chain with store branches in at least 10 different states. The chain you choose to research can be any company that falls within the definition of retailing in our textbook (traditional retailer, nonstore retailer, service retailer). No two teams may do the same retail firm. Each group of at least three or at most four team members will select a retail firm with a store branch located in the Madison area. The project is divided into two parts: A) written report and B) in-class presentation.

You need to sign-up for the retail chain you wish to report on, identify your team members and indicate whether you wish to present the project in the first, second or third class presentation session (see class calendar) by sending an email to the class List-serve (retail-357cs@lists.students.wisc.edu ) within two weeks after the term project assignment is discussed in class. Dates and retail chain selection will be determined on a first-come, first-served basis. I will assign a company and dates of presentation for the remaining students.

A) Final Written Report--due before your team's class presentation

This report should contain information about the retailer selected. The report ought to contain at least six of the ten topics/sections offered below. You are required to do # 1, #2 and #3 but can choose the remaining topics.

1. History of retail organization (its development over the years and people involved)
2. Current analysis of the company (size, financial measures and status, growth, future plans, etc.)
3. Career opportunities available with the retailer, a typical career path (see text--Appendix on Retail Careers), training programs offered to employees, internship opportunities, employee relations, hiring process
4. Location Analysis of the company (corporate headquarters, the main branch stores, trading areas, type of business locations, new facility development issues)
5. Merchandising concept (product/service offerings, product life cycle, retail formats, breath/depth)
6. Profile of retailer's customers (life-style and demographics) and issues related to consumer behavior
7. Strategies used to attract the company's target market (e.g. merchandise management and pricing)
8. Retailer's competitive environment (comparison with major competitors: advantages & disadvantages; strengths & weaknesses, opportunities & threats)
9. Retailer's promotional activities (image/atmospherics, positioning, media advertising, public relations, retail facilities and merchandise display, personal selling, customer services, etc.)
10. Select your own aspect of the retailer's operational or strategic function

Your final written paper should be organized using section headings and/or subheadings as indicated above. Needless to say, your final report needs to consist of an Introduction, the Main report and a Conclusion section and to incorporate material covered in class. Excellent term papers provide a thorough analysis of a retailer rather than simply a compilation of reports from secondary sources. Useful sources of information about retail companies are the Class and Text Web Sites, trade publications (Stores magazine, Store Chain Age, Discount Merchandiser, Newsweek, Business Week, Fortune, Wall Street Journal), company reports, video materials, Internet sources. It is strongly recommended that you obtain original materials directly from the company headquarters and conduct personal interviews with local store management (cite name(s), position(s), contact information, phone and time/date of the interview). The Retailing Center in #33 SOHE is another good source for retail company information.

Your analysis should be at least 12 pages in length, typewritten, double-spaced with numbered pages (see class policies for written assignments). For each topical area included in your analysis you need to demonstrate that you incorporated class material and conducted an intensive information search and/or field study. It is required that you use at least 10 different references (a company's Web Site represents 1 entry) and list these using APA editorial style. No more than half of the references may come from the Internet. Attach printouts of Internet sources in an Appendix. The cover page should indicate the name of the company and names of team members contributing to the project.

B) Oral Presentation
Term projects will be presented orally in the form of an 8-10 minute presentation in one of the three class sessions as indicated on the class calendar. In this brief presentation, one or more group members will play the role of a public relations person/team or the retailer's recruitment team, while the class assumes the role of a prospective employee. Hence, it is clear that you may not present everything you included in your written analysis but rather provide information that may be of interest to prospective employees.

Note that the content, the quality and timing of the oral report will be considered in grading. After organizing the report and preparing your presentation outline, meet as a group to "rehearse" your oral presentation. This will give everyone a chance for input into the quality of class presentation. It is important that this rehearsal be timed so your presentation fits within the allotted time. The use of visual aids is recommended (transparencies or computer presentation). You may not use a video tape due to time limitations.

The group is responsible for preparing a one-page presentation synopsis for everyone in class; hand these out before your presentation. Immediately after your group presentation, you need to turn in the GROUP MEMBER EVALUATION FORM (see below). Since it is obvious these evaluations are anonymous, either staple the form in half or use a plain, sealed envelope. You cannot obtain presentation points unless you actively participate in all three presentation sessions.

PROJECT EVALUATION/ GRADING CHECK LIST (check here)

Written Report: Cover page _____
  60 points (depth of analysis in 6 sections) _____
  10 points (depth of information search and citations) _____
  10 points (organization of topics & overall presentation)  
_____ Project presentation: 20 points (quality of presentation & handouts)
_____ TOTAL Project 100 points  

The project is worth 25% of your final course grade. An individual's project grade will be determined based on the group member evaluation forms.
_________________________________________________________________________

cut here and submit this form in a plain envelope an the day of your group presentation



GROUP MEMBER EVALUATION FORM



Your name:________________________________ RETAILER:_______________________

Evaluate the quality of contribution of each member in your group by assigning the percent of the individual's total contribution to the term project. Ideally, each member would do equal amount of work and the percentage distribution would be Member 1 (name) 33.33%, Member 2 (name) 33.33%, and Member 3 (name) 33.33%. Alternatively, the contributions of a 4-member team would be 25% each. Do keep your personal integrity and be honest. This evaluation will impact each individual member's project grade.

Member 1 Name_____________________________________ Contribution in % :______
Member 2 Name____________________________________ Contribution in % :______
Member 3 Name_____________________________________ Contribution in % :______
Member 4 Name_____________________________________ Contribution in % :______

YOUR COMMENTS (use the reverse side if needed):