Dr Charlotte Smith – Lincoln International Business School – Department of Management – Senior Lecturer – Staff Profile
It is important that business schools provide opportunities for students to develop employability skills and a “business-ready mindset” to meet employers’ expectations (CMI, 2018: 5). One way this can be achieved is through community-engaged learning projects where students work in small teams to deliver a project which in some way supports the local community. Whilst student projects have been around for a while, community-engaged learning projects are innovative in that they build meaningful community experience into the curriculum and promote more sustainable communities.
Community projects are embedded within two modules in Lincoln International Business School: MGT9645M (Teams & Leadership) and BUS9716M (Global Project Teams). Module Leader, Dr Charlotte Smith, has developed strong links with members of Lincoln City Council and local charitable organisations who collaborate with students on the projects based on the needs of the community group. Since 2016, students have worked with Lincoln Toy Library, Portland Street Medical Practice, Bishop Kings Primary School, Central Methodist Church, The Network, and Acts Trust, whose positive feedback states they would not have the resources to complete these projects without the students’ involvement. This sense of community working enabled students to plan, co-ordinate and work in conjunction with wide community groups to develop a project output inline with the communities needs. This gave students a wider understand of community project working and how they can apply their learning in different contexts.
Students were required to create their own teams on MS Teams for their project and this was used as their primary means of sharing documentation, co-ordinating and communicating with each other. The students were also asked to hold online meetings using Teams, to upload an agenda in advance and to share minutes of the meeting afterwards on their Teams site. To support the students, seminar leaders were added to their team sites so they could see the activity of each project group.
Students, for the assessment of this task, were required to present their findings and outputs during a group presentation (25%), which was recorded via MS Teams, and worked in conjunction with an individual reflective portfolio (75%) which was used to demonstrate students’ learning and development as well as a tool for planning future learning. It also enabled students to gather a sense of how such learning affected their professional practice.
Outcomes and Benefits
Both modules consistently receive high student satisfaction scores with students commenting that: ‘The module felt very rewarding as we helped improve our local area’ and ‘Favourite module this year, seems most effective in developing practical skills for situations that arise in the future. I think replicating team situations/’real life’ in all m Both modules consistently receive high student satisfaction scores with students commenting that: ‘The module felt very rewarding as we helped improve our local area’ and ‘Favourite module this year, seems most effective in developing practical skills for situations that arise in the future. I think replicating team situations/’real life’ in all modules would help students place the content of what they’re learning into a more integrated perspective.’ One example of the positive impact of the community projects is a video produced by a team of students for Portland Street Medical Practice to assist patients in signing up to online services which was subsequently rolled out across the primary care network, resulting in a significant increase in registrations.
CMI (2018). 21st Century Leaders. Available at: https://www.managers.org.uk/~/media/Files/Reports/insights/research/21st_Century_Leaders_CMI_Feb2018.pdf [Accessed on 20 June 2021].