Taught by Megan Downing
This course focuses on the dynamics of teamwork. Roles and qualities of team leaders and team players will be discussed, along with attributes and behavior of teams. Special focus will be placed on problem solving in a team environment, diverse teams, and virtual teamwork.
- Professor Megan Downing
Research shows that experiential learning is greatly beneficial to student learning. This process is a bit more challenging to achieve in the online learning environment, but thanks to the Mayerson Student Philanthropy Project (MSPP), online students in Teamwork in Organizations have a particularly meaningful opportunity for experiential learning that aligns with course learning outcomes and has truly enriched the online student experience.
Student teams study and “do” teamwork as they research non-profits in the region. Students report an appreciation for group work that isn’t “just another group project” but is something “meaningful”, “real,” that “truly makes a difference”. In addition to learning facts about non-profit organizations (e.g., organization structure, funding, operating basics, oversight, etc.), students learn about meaningful organizational mission, goals, and programs. Students research the organizations online and interview one or more organization representatives to learn more about their non-profit work, how teamwork is leveraged in the organization, and how they navigate the complexities of teamwork in the non-profit world.
Each team then prepares a report and presentation that is delivered to their classmates; students review these, and in so doing learn about teamwork in real-world situations and a variety of non-profits in the region. With this information, students make an informed selection as they rank vote to select award recipients. I and my students greatly appreciate all the non-profit organizations who so graciously give of their time to support the Teamwork in Organization students and enrich their learning experience.
Remarks from Student Team 1 (Women's Crisis Center): Our team came together to achieve the goal of obtaining the grant for the organization we represented. We did this through communication and teamwork. We would have weekly Zoom meetings, where we would discuss what needs to get done on the project and to ensure everyone in the group was on the right track. We managed to overcome the challenges of virtual online meetings. After creating a team contract, where we addressed our goals, objectives, and conflict management strategies, we developed team collectiveness and trust between team members.
We all learned the valuable lessons of teamwork and how important it is. We feel that everyone within the group did their part to make this project successful. Through hard work individually and great coordination as a team we were able to receive the grant for the Women's Crisis Center. What started as a simple idea of raising awareness about this organization and their fight to keep our community safe, turned into a $1,000 grant that will benefit the women's crisis center in so many ways.
This project shows the benefit of service learning and provided our entire class with the satisfaction of being able to help and serve others. Our group was able to use the fundamentals of teamwork in order to have such success. We did a great job communicating with each other and coordinating each person's individual job in order to stay on track and get our work done the right way.
Remarks from Student Team 2 (Welcome House): Our team applied many teamwork concepts from this class to help us complete this project and make us successful in reaching a common goal. We met every Sunday evening at 5:30pm through Zoom. In these meetings, we would discuss where we were at in the project stage and go over the assignment and the roles we are assigned to for the project. We would also communicate through Canvas messaging throughout the week. Creating a team contract and assigning roles was the next step in ensuring that everyone was doing their part in the project. Assigning roles would keep everyone accountable throughout the project.
When deciding on our non-profit organization for the project, we used the brainwriting method, a technique described in the text. We all chose three different non profits we would like to work with and eventually narrowed these down to our choice, Welcome House of Northern Kentucky.
Being in a pandemic, there were lessons learned about teamwork through a virtual environment. Our meetings over Zoom were great although you do not get the same experience you do through face to face. This was sometimes hard when trying to build a team relationship.
All in all, this project has taught us a variety of lessons. This includes how to communicate well with members of a team in an organization, how to put effort into something bigger than yourself, and how to build relationships through the virtual world.
The research that went into advocating for Welcome House for MSPP Grant really showed how fortunate some of us are and led us as a team to express to one another that nothing we have should be taken for granted.
As Kelly Rose stated in her interview, you become emotionally involved while working in a non-profit organization; while working on this project together, we noticed that we did too. Welcome House’s six core values are compassion, advocacy, integrity, quality, leadership, and community, these values from the looks of the organization and according to people a part of it are held at a high standard and are commonly met, which is why they’re the best choice for the grant.
The biggest takeaway from the Welcome House Organization that we incorporated into our teamwork is focusing on the goal and being committed to the success of each other and the team as a whole.
Remarks from Student Team 3: The team collaboration and experience within the project was very informative, insightful, and educational. From gathering data from the organization's utilization of their Teen Outreach Program, the emphasis on social-emotional learning, community service-based learning, fostering supportive teen teamwork and healthy relationships with adults, and allowing teens to work together to give back to their communities, this project has been very valuable in understanding the importance of the program and the impact it has on the youth of the community.
As a service-learning opportunity, students have been placed in an amazing space for personal development and given the experience necessary to connect coursework with real-life implementation of teamwork within organizations. As a service-learning opportunity for each team member to experience, we are all walking away from this team project, with better awareness of team organizations, an example of quality leadership, and how to have greater implementation for those we hope to serve.
Remarks from Student Team 4: Through this experience, the team was able to learn not only about applicable concepts for teamwork, but how they operate under circumstances different from what they’re used to. This assignment showed everyone in the team how effective communication is a key part of efficient teamwork. Skills learned and applied throughout the duration of this assignment will stick with the members of the team for future team-based tasks.
Remarks from Student Team 5: Teamwork is important, especially in these uncertain times, and the core values of the organization we represented reflect this. Their main goal was to help assist low-income families. But they also specialize in how they treat the people working on these projects. For example, volunteers feel valued, included, and respected when it comes to decision making and communication.
While completing this project virtually, Team Five truly thrived when it came to tackling teamwork and team concepts. More specifically some things that we did well on were communication, time management, and group decision making. All in all, team five is completely satisfied with how we worked as a team and how well we portrayed our selected organization's information to the class.
Remarks from Kelly Rose, Welcome House Development & Marketing Director:
Greetings to our friends at Mayerson and NKU. On behalf of Welcome House of Northern Kentucky, I would like to thank you for providing us with $1,000.00 to provide our women and children access to birth certificates, identification cards, and bus passes. At Welcome House, we provide a continuum of services that takes our clients from housing uncertainty to housing stability. Most in the community know us for our shelter for homeless women and children, last year we served 145 women and children.
We were lucky enough to adapt quickly during COVID so we could continue to serve those needing housing. By providing us with the funds to purchase birth certificates, identification cards, and bus passes, you have ensured that we will be able to help our clients obtain housing, employment, health benefits, mainstream benefits and so much more that require these documents.
You have also allowed for the people we serve to have a mode of transportation to childcare, their place of employment, or to their healthcare provider. All of these items that we requested are vital to the stability of our clients, and we want to thank you for making this possible. We are so grateful to live in a community that embraces us and believes in our services the way that we do every day.
Remarks from Stacey Walden, Community Counselor and Educator at Women's Crisis Center:
Thank you so much again for selecting Women's Crisis Center to be a recipient of your Mayerson project! All of Women's Crisis Center's services are offered at no charge and it's because of funds like these that make that possible!
Women's Crisis Center serves 13 counties in the Northern Kentucky and Buffalo Trace area, a blend of both urban and rural communities. We recently created a new department, Northern Kentucky Rural counties, to have a dedicated department to increase accessibility and improve services of our rural counties. As we're working more closely with the community, we're learning more about the unique needs and barriers our rural counties face.
One area we're working closely with the community on is having a coordinated community response for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking. Women's Crisis Center is not the only agency who supports victims - victims might seek help from law enforcement, the judicial system, the hospital, or other community-based services. We not only want to help these victims navigate these other agencies, but also how do we support the agencies to provide the best part possible to these victims?
We're excited to share with these funds, we will be able to bring a trauma informed care training for the community to help improve response. Trauma informed care is an evidence based approach to providing services that has us acknowledge the impact trauma can have on a victim and to provide treatment accordingly. It shifts the question from “what is wrong with you?” to “what happened to you?” We're excited for the opportunity to bring this training to the rural counties to not only improve community response to these issues but to also continue to build relationships with our community partners!
To see more about what Women's Crisis Center is doing, please check us out on our website at wccky.org or on social media! We're on Facebook (Women's Crisis Center Northern Kentucky; Women's Crisis Center Rural Counties) or Instagram.
Professor Downing: Because LDR 385 was an asynchronous online class, I didn't encounter any particular teaching challenges due to the pandemic. I've been teaching MSPP in online asynchronous teamwork courses for several semesters, and that experience was particularly valuable during the pandemic for both my asynchronous course and another synchronous Zoom course.
There were some challenges for the students, however -- two organizations who are operating remotely and with a skeleton crew did not respond to students' invitation to participate in the MSPP opportunity. We were able to navigate this without too much difficulty (one team selected their second choice; the other researched their selected organization but the org was excluded from grant selection). Initially disappointing for the teams who were not able to represent their 'first choice' among non-profits, everything worked out OK in the end.
Another challenge relates to site visits. I do not 'require' site visits for online MSPP courses, but encourage them if students are interested and able to make it happen with some or all of their team. Norse 9 safety precaution principals were reviewed and emphasized for any students considering a site visit; however, students were encouraged to opt for a 'virtual' visit using Zoom or to conduct their interview/visit via phone or, as a last resort, via email. Most students successfully chose the Zoom option. A couple groups did do site visits and both they and the organization followed CDC & Norse 9 precautions.