The outcome is more than a grade. It increases the stakes a little bit, but that increases student buy-in. Students are far more engaged.
When business leaders need advice on overcoming fundamental challenges, they are finding valuable input from a new source: Bridgewater State University students.
Several companies are part of BSU’s new Collaborative University Business Experiences, or CUBEs. CUBEs bring real-world problems into the classroom, allowing students to complete projects for clients. The work complements course curriculum.
“It was nice knowing that the work we were doing was going to benefit a real company,” said Andrea Weng, ’22, who participated in CUBEs in two classes and interned for the initiative. “I was really grateful I was able to do it.”
The initiative, supported by a BSU academic innovation grant, began last year as business faculty sought new ways to prepare students for careers.
One of the participating businesses, Meditech, completed two CUBEs, which allowed students to study what prospective employers sought in a job and analyze current workers’ sense of inclusion and belonging.
“It was a really good opportunity for us to gain some fresh perspectives and insight,” said Shannon Laingen, senior manager of recruiting and staff development at the medical records software company that employs more than 200 BSU alumni. “I personally enjoyed hearing from the students and their enthusiasm and willingness to help us solve a problem.”
Because CUBEs are infused in classes, they offer experiential learning without added time commitment. This is particularly important for students working multiple jobs who may struggle to fit in internships, said Dr. Xiangrong Liu, an associate professor in the Department of Management and Marketing.
“This will give them more opportunities,” said Liu. “Students are improving their communication and problem-solving skills. It’s really helpful for them to launch their careers.”
Business professors hope to see CUBEs expand to other colleges. While courses must be adapted to include the project, the results are impressive, they said.
"The outcome is more than a grade,” said Dr. Stephanie Jacobsen, an assistant professor of management and marketing. “It increases the stakes a little bit, but that increases student buy-in. Students are far more engaged.”
Andrea, who helped devise a virtual Mad Libs-like game for event producer Interactive Entertainment Group, appreciated having this opportunity as a student.
“It wasn’t like you were going to get fired,” said the marketing major from Quincy. “You got to practice things and have the experience.”
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