Center for Academic Service - Learning
University of Wisconsin-Superior
Swenson Hall 2047
Belknap and Catlin
P.O. Box 2000
Superior, WI 54880
Monday - Friday
8:00am - 4:00pm
Center for Academic Service - Learning
News and Events Details
Students in two sections of the course took on two projects for the non-profit. The first worked to create the most efficient use of the organization's resources from project materials to human resources. The second studied the possibility of a 're-store,' a business that takes recycled material from work sites and resells it at a lower price for profit.
'Oh my gosh, how am I going to do this?'
UW-Superior junior Alysse Tunell admits the idea of service-learning scared her at first. "I thought 'Oh my gosh, how am I going to do this?' It was daunting at first." Each class broke up its projects into different aspects of business from marketing and sales to information technology. Tunell, an accounting major, says she felt overwhelmed after learning she was a member of the finance group. "I hadn't had any finance classes until that semester," said Tunell.
The importance of ambiguity
But Kibler says he assigned the groups on purpose. "It's introduced them in many ways to the ambiguity that is so indicative of real life and the fact that you can't just read a text book and take a test. Life is all about decisions without information." That ambiguity is what Kibler says his students had the hardest time with. "They were put into a project as if they were consultants and they needed to define the project with the customer. They weren't given a specific project in class. That was an extremely new experience for them."
Tunell embraced the project and emerged as the finance group leader. Some students, like UW-Superior senior Patti Stalvig, found their assignment quite fitting. Stalvig, a transportation and logistics major, served as group leader of the supply and logistics portion while examining Habitat for Humanity's mode of doing business. She says working on a team wasn't always easy.
"Unfortunately, the four of us in the group had very conflicting schedules, which was probably the biggest hurdle. The only time we had to meet was between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m. before class. We did have a couple of opportunities when Dr. Kibler was gone that we met during class time, and that helped."
Impressing business professionals
Habitat for Humanity's Board of Directors includes president of Western Lake Superior Habitat for Humanity, retired director of Public Works in Duluth, secretary of the U.S. department of Social Security and the owner of Hedquist Electric. The board also brought in the president of St. Scholastica's Habitat for Humanity group. Kibler says the feedback included both praise and criticism. But he believes the group found the students very professional and their ideas to be well-planned.
First time partnership
Working with college students isn't a new experience for Western Lake Superior Habitat for Humanity Director Daryl Yankee. Throughout his years of service, Yankee has worked with students from the University of Minnesota, the University of California in Santa Barbara and Pepperdine University in Malibu. UW-Superior, however, is the first local university to practice service-learning with Yankee and Habitat for Humanity. Yankee says the students have done a great job. "I can already see the benefits that have come about through it." Yankee credits the success of the project to both groups. "We've been very open to learning as we go and both sides have been adaptable along the way. The students weren't afraid to ask questions and learn how our organization works," said Yankee.
Always room for improvement
"I'd still like to be able to get more information to the students as little earlier on how the project works. I'm probably going to also work on repeating myself more often; trying to drive the point home of what this is really doing for the students." Kibler says he also hopes to better emphasize the academic side of the course as well as allot more time for the service-learning portion.
A look into the future
Yankee also mentioned that he would open to future possibilities. "There are definitely opportunities we've talked about; perhaps in the social services side of things. I know we've got a lot of family support that we do. We've got 32 existing partner families that we've built with over the years. There's definitely an opportunity there, as well as straight up business applications." Stalvig, a spring 2010 graduate, says she would encourage others to participate in this course and any other service-learning opportunities. "So many people learn by 'doing', myself included. The hands-on experience is something that every student who makes an effort will gain something by participating."
"Principles of Management" is part of the Academic Service-Learning program at UW-Superior. Academic Service-Learning enables students to apply concepts and skills they learn in the classroom and give that knowledge back to the community.
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