Four Strategies to a Successful Applied Learning Project

Carol Jaeger's ClassThe first Professional Communications I class of the newly-designed career path learning model at the Minnesota School of Business-Richfield campus blazes the way for students to see firsthand how applied learning benefits both themselves and their partner organization.

Ms. Rita Hillmann Olson, MSB-Richfield accounting instructor, and treasurer of HIS Haven Ranch, presented the challenge of creating a brochure for the ranch to match its newly designed website.

HIS Haven Ranch is a safe haven and positive environment where individuals, ages five and up who are emotionally vulnerable, lonely, hurting, or in need of a friend, can participate in a program whereby they develop good teamwork and communication skills while working with and riding horses. Upon learning the importance of this mission, the class embraced the challenge.

Two teams were formed to create individual brochures, followed by a formal presentation to Rita. The subsequent panel discussion led by Rita revealed some great feedback, such as the level of professionalism demonstrated, including an email invite that was written by each team.

At an upcoming board of directors meeting, Rita will present the two brochures to determine the direction to take before publication. Rita intends to use the brochures to blaze the path for an updated marketing campaign.

Four applied learning success strategies about the project resonated in reflection papers written by students:

Know Your Partner’s Need. Arrange a meeting with your partner to gain a clear understanding of the expectations. This will help to set goals and create timelines for completion. During the project, reach out to your partner, asking questions and discussing progress, to stay on task. Megan Carlsen,an architectural drafting and design student involved in the project says, “It is important to fully understand the project, to narrow down the ‘need.’ That way you are able to focus on finding the correct information.”

Know Your Team’s Skill Set. First, build a rapport with your teammates by getting to know them and their individual talents. Next, assign roles and duties to leverage skills and encourage creativity. Finally, actively listen to both input and feedback to achieve the best possible outcome. Megan also shares, “Understanding your teammates, how they learn and communicate, makes it easier to work together.”

Know Your Project Goals. Stay focused on the end goal and remain determined to improve your product. Expect to encounter challenges and be prepared to overcome them. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes along the way, and be willing to start over to achieve greater success. According to Jonathan Witzke, game and application development student, “Always attend class. You want to be on the same page with your teammates, and a lot can change in a day.”

Know How to Demonstrate Professionalism. Dress in business attire when meeting with your partner, showing that you take the project seriously and that you respect the process. Be prepared by creating and organizing a standout presentation. Tina Hunter, information technology student recommends, “Learn how to write properly because you want your message to make sense so that people will know what you are saying.” Finally, arrive on time for scheduled meetings, introduce yourself, and be open to constructive feedback that will be invaluable to you as you move forward in life.

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By: Carol Jaeger, Instructor