The Relevance Partnership*

To assure relevance, education has to be a partnership between college and community. In a capstone business class, for example, the community may be represented by experienced practitioners who serve as both coaches and clients. The college is represented by students and faculty. Both faculty and practitioners, then, could coach students, helping them to apply newly learned business concepts and provide fresh perspective on existing business problems for organizational clients. We call such a class “Org Consulting.”

The syllabus looks like this:

  • Student teams meet with faculty at least once per week.
  • Before a semester begins, faculty and clients outline the scope and “deliverables” of a consulting project.
  • Once the semester begins, students are introduced to clients and continue the negotiation on the “statement of work” with help from faculty.
  • Students then meet with practitioner coaches to review the situation and get advice on “tightening up” the statement of work, including their problem statement and approach (research plan/methodology) to collect data to solve the problem, and what the students will provide the client at the end of the semester.
  • Student teams then seek approval of the statement of work from the client.
  • Halfway through the semester the student teams meet with their practitioner coaches to review the status of their methodology and hypotheses regarding the underlying problem (that is, their diagnosis of the problem underlying the problem statement) and solution strategies).
  • The student teams then meet with their client to review their progress, share their findings, and test their underlying diagnosis and solution strategies.
  • At the end of the semester the student teams meet one last time with client with their practitioners coaches in attendance to tell the story from problem statement to diagnose to solution strategy to implementation plan. The client and practitioner coaches (the community) then provide evaluation feedback for the faculty and students.

To assure relevance, education has to be a partnership between college and community.

*Special thanks to great students, coaches (Aaron, Cal, Jim, Seth, Virgil) and clients (Jordan Vande Kamp(AppProvider), Ryan Hesslau (foreverU), Chicago Semester, Palos Area Chamber of Commerce, Providence Bank & Trust, Providence Life Services, Royal Oak Landscaping) for a great Fall, 2016 Semester!