Group Projects with a Purpose

Parents and children of the community have spoken. Now Albion College students will work to turn the community’s ideas into realities.

Dr. Vicki Baker’s Economics and Management 359 class created surveys and sent them home with Albion kindergarten through eighth grade schoolchildren. The surveys asked both parents and children what they wanted regarding youth and community programming.

Students in the class will work in groups to combine the survey results with information gathered at the Sept. 15 community meeting at Washington Gardner Middle School, analyze the data, identify four to five areas of focus and research how to make those programs happen.

Baker received 200 surveys back on Monday, Sept. 21.  The surveys gauged interest in programs involving art, reading, writing, athletics, STEM and more.  The responses ranged from desire for more art programs to a request for a science fair. The survey also included a section for parents to express what kind of support they needed, such as resume building programs.

Baker’s students will start working on the project this week. “Like I always tell my business students, you can do well and do good at the same time,” Baker said. “[…] We have a responsibility to give back to the community.”

Baker hopes that the Washington Gardner Middle School community meeting will be the first of many. By the end of the fall semester, her goal is for the class to identify the major themes in the data and research any initiatives currently underway. Then during the spring semester her classes will work to identify community partners for the programs.

Baker’s Economics and Management class is part of Albion’s Humanities Lab cross-course collaboration. Last year, students worked on Albion’s Food Hub—a commercial kitchen and business incubator at 112 W. Erie Street.

Baker emphasized how important it is for her students to have a larger purpose for their group projects, rather than just doing projects for projects’ sake. She said,“The students can see they’re making contributions, and that this will enhance their skill set as well.”

Photo by Jennifer McDonell

About Nicole Kurlich 11 Articles
Nicole Kurlich is an English major at Albion College. In her spare time she writes poetry, rides horses and absently strums her ukulele while considering a career in travel writing. Tweet her @nkurlich.

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