Review: Steve Corio, Marketing, Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business

At a glance

  • Workload:  Light
  • Teaching Style:  Interactive (kind of)
  • Interest in students: High
  • Relevance to outside world:  Low

Overall Professor Rating: 2.5

Overall Course Rating: 2

Marketing 551 is a hard class for the SCU program.  Many have described it as an undergraduate-level course and I would agree, even as someone without any background in the marketing side of things.  So it’s not easy to review a course that is so basic in the concepts it covers.  In addition, the other professors that teach 551, during the year, have less than stellar reviews.

The Review

This is the latest of my reviews on the professors I’ve had while an MBA student at Santa Clara University‘s Leavey School of Business. There are lots of sites out there that provide feedback and rates – ratemyprofessor is the most notable. The SantaClaraMBA Yahoo group also has a big database of comments and lots of additional information in its message archive. That database can be a bit hard to wade through, and the comments are short and often just link to other threads, which are themselves pretty short and superficial. Only here can I write as much as I want  🙂

I review professors from a variety of perspectives.  First, I explain the context(s) under which I took the class.  Time of year, time of day, etc.  Then I talk about the quality of the class and the professor, and finally about the professor as a person.  After all, we are trying to learn about our interactions with people, so knowing that side of a teacher is critical, too.  So these would be interactions outside the classroom, etc.  I also just write whatever it is that I think is relevant or will be helpful to others.  That is my overall goal.

This is the first review I’ve done of a course I’ve just completed.  So at least its fresh :-).

The facts

I took 551 this summer 2008, Tuesday and Thursday, from 5:30-7:30.  It was the first of two classes on those evenings – 4 straight hours of class.  And it was also the first class after a day at work.  Summer classes are always hard to take, and hard to review, I think.  The classes are longer, with a break, and some faculty modify their course material for the short, 7 week term, others don’t.  But that’s when I took the course, so that’s that.

Them’s the facts. Now read on for the review.

The class

Corio presents and positions his class in an interesting way.  He recognizes that the course is designed to lay a basic foundation on marketing concepts.  He specifically mentions how 553, the next course in the sequence, is there for the case-based curriculum.  So it’s good that he does that and realizes that.  However, that doesn’t make the material that much more interesting, to be honest.

Also, Corio says that the tests will be based on the book material, and that his lectures are there to ‘enrich’ that material.  But it’s hard to really understand what that means, especially since he hands out a study guide for the midterm and final.  Do I read the book intensely?  Do I focus on the pages of the study guide (and those pages don’t line up all that well, btw)?  How closely do I listen to the lectures and take notes’  This last issue is especially tough since it is right after work and the beginning of a long night.

As far as mechanics, there is a midterm and a final, both curved, and a study guide as well for both.  Corio hands out a study guide for each that lists pages, based on the edition of the book he uses (which is one version old now), that contain the important topics.  However, rarely is there a clear, concise topic covered on that one page.  So you go back to the previous page.  But that’s a subsection of a bigger topic.  So do you go back another page and start there.

The exams are also a bit too specific, IMO.  There are almost always 2 of the 4-5 options that sound identical and it’s a 50-50 situation.  Also, a lot of the questions with blanks in the sentences have answers that are grammatically incorrect which is confusing (do I only consider the ones that are grammatically correct’), and/or are like:

  • The topic includes X, Y, Z, 1, 2, 3 and [blank]

Now.  If I know X, Z, 1, 2 and 3, I’m pretty happy.  It’s a bit frustrating to have to deal with that [blank] when my studying gave me so much.  And this happened at least 10 times on the final.

As far as how Corio actually teaches in the room, it’s kind of a mixed bag.  He is really energetic, but he also is clearly hard of hearing so he will ask a question and hear a ‘phantom’ answer and shout out in agreement.  This makes for a confusing environment sometimes.  The energy works for some, but it did not for me.

The Person

The common knock against Corio is that he’s a sales guy, not marketing.  And this is absolutely true.  Every time he went towards marketing, he’d go back towards sales.  Since his lectures are meant to ‘enrich’ the textbook this is a bit of a conflict.  How do you enrich a marketing book with a lecture on sales’

Also, while many like Corio’s energy, I found it difficult and distracting.  Finally, the fact that he kept referring to ‘the IBM company’ that made ‘intelligent workstations’ indicated that he is rather dated.  Not that you have to be a high tech guy to be a good marketing person, but it was a bit weird.

Random Thoughts

There are a few reasons which people cite for taking 551 with Corio.  The first is that most people read about how bad the other professors are (I have not taken a class with either Fox or Kao, the primary alternatives, so I am not, absolutely not, saying that those reviews are accurate).  The second is that Corio is supposedly really easy.

Now, if the other 551 professors hadn’t gotten such bad reviews, I would say that this is one of those times when it’s better to take a slightly more difficult course rather than go for the easy grade with Corio.  For me – hey, I did not do that well.  I got a B+.  I started there on the midterm, and found so many questions all over the place on the final that I stayed there rather than improving.  I think I would have preferred to take a more difficult version of the course so that I could learn a bit more, and be a bit more stimulated, mentally.

Some Metrics

Metrics are of questionable use, depending on professor and what classes I have and haven’t taken.  But they might be of interest so I’ll do what I can.  These are more like ‘comparisons’ than metrics but I like the word better :-).  Some rough parameters are:

  • Workload:  runs from heavy, which would be work in class, after class, individual and team, to just a lot of problem sets to basically just in-class discussion.
  • Teaching style:  spectrum runs from pure-lecture to interactive to all-over-the place.
  • Interest in students:  pretty obvious
  • Relevance to the outside world:  pretty obvious, though heavily restricted due to my background in academia

Workload:  Light
No homework at all, reading is necessary for the exams but on our own, and we get a study guide for the exams.  That’s it.

Teaching Style:  Interactive.
He talks a lot to us and is energetic, but I don’t think that actually helped in this case.  But he was interactive and kept us involved.  Well, he kept one guy in particular really involved, and occaisionally let the rest of us talk, too.

Interest in students:  High.
He does want us to do well.

Relevance to outside world:  Low.
There is nothing in this course that you can’t kind of make up by just thinking about marketing.  The only thing you really get is the terminology.

Comment (1)

  1. Pingback: blog of kaiyen » The Road Thus Far

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *