By Katy Barenholtz
Denison University’s Organizational Psychology course in the psychology department is not just your average lecture or group-discussion based class. That idea is emphasized to the point where the course’s professor, David Przybyla, made this the motto of the entire project.
In addition to tests and quizzes, this course involves two simulation projects that are very hands-on, interactive and rewarding. Przybyla stated that these projects are extremely beneficial in a variety of ways: “Simulations are excellent pedagogical options that students find engaging and contribute to their skills at analysis, synthesis and application.”
The class is divided into teams, also referred to as organizations, of five or six students. The teams act as consulting agencies that help actual businesses brainstorm about current issues or projects. The purpose of these simulations is to get the students to understand firsthand how real life organizations function.
The project requires an organization book that involves creating job titles and descriptions, hiring, firing, quitting policies and a mission statement or overall goal of the team. The project also requires a project book outlining the ideas of the consulting group for the assigned agency. Projects from previous classes have included Robbins Hunter Museum, Owens Corning, and Mental Health America of Licking County.
This semester, which the class presented on in the last couple of weeks, the agency chosen was Newark Developing Partners. This organization is heading the ReNewark project; a long term and short term plan to revitalize downtown Newark and attract the Denison community as well.
The teams were required to spend time getting to know Newark, meeting with Fred Ernest, the director of Newark Development Partners to get his opinion on each teams’ progress, and develop a creative strategy to make the city of Newark a destination spot for both Denison and surrounding areas.
Fred was overall very pleased with the presentations and really appreciated the students’ hard work. “I really enjoyed working with the students, feeling their energy and seeing their thought process. They also looked at things with a very fresh perspective which points out opportunities that many of us overlook.”
He is confident enough in the ideas of the teams that he believes that some of them can be implemented right away.
Everyone came up with unique and creative ideas but just like the real world, at the end of the day there has to be a winner. As difficult as it was to choose a winner, Fred chose the team PURK Consultants, consisting of Santiago Juarez ’16, Kenna Bullard ‘16, Phuong Hoang ‘17, Uma Rajeendra ‘15, and Rita Snell ‘15. This team’s presentation was dynamic, creative, and most importantly, their ideas had a tangible plan that could be easily implemented.
When asked what contributed to their success, team member Juarez stated a variety of different reasons he believed their ideas were such a hit among the Newark community. “We worked out great because we were a group of five people who have traveled the world extensively, have experienced and lived in different cultures. These life experiences have shaped our ideas, creations and innovations because we were able to apply our preferences to a renewed Newark plan.”
In terms of their group dynamic, Juarez believed that their key strength was sticking to a strict plan and making decisions based on the best interests of the group instead of one person’s’ individual opinion.
This is a very important project for the Newark community and it is a great experience that Denison students were able to make impact contributions.
Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Kennedy