Working in Groups to Change the School

It is often said that the most valuable lessons are those learned with time spent outside the classroom. This can take the shape of group projects or even endeavors through a student organization. Group projects afford you the opportunity to take part in a work group to strive for a common goal; a high grade.

These group projects are often meant to mimic a real-world setting in the workplace where you will be grouped with others of different skill sets and tasked by supervisors to create tangible results or face the potential consequence of being fired. You learn that sometimes you are going to have very different ideas when it comes to approaching work compared to some of your group mates. Timelines, organization and dedication are all matters I’ve found differ most often between group mates.

Negative differences aside, differences can also promote variety in mindset. This often times negates the effect of groupthink and allows the group to identify a vast array of potential issues before they come to pass. In my other posts I have touched on the broad diversity here at Florida Tech. This diversity almost guarantees the difference of opinion and action amongst classroom group-mates. Learning to cope with the differences of different cultures will have a lasting impact on the way you are able to conduct business in your future career.

Some amazing feats have been accomplished on campus from student groups consisting of students from all walks of life. One look at the sustainability program here at Florida Tech can show that. Two years ago, the program consisted of only a minor and two dedicated courses. Due to the demand for such a program from students in all five colleges, the minor quickly caught on and students began asking for more.

One of the outcomes of this was the development of a dedicated sustainability major in the Department of Education and Interdisciplinary Studies. Students also began developing their own projects related to sustainability around campus. Recycling efforts finally took root across campus and some dorms even have bins in every room. Campus policy has been changed through student groups working hand-in-hand with university offices.

When I was in my Applied Sustainability course, I was with a group when we were tasked with developing a sustainable purchasing plan for the university’s purchasing office. My group mates came from many different places and each had different elements to contribute to the final result. The final result was a rough draft outlining goals that would further the sustainable credibility of the university. This project has developed into a multi-generational project in that it will soon be picked up and carried on by another group with a mind for sustainability.

Other groups on campus have come together to build houses for the local community, improve quality of life for students and advance classroom conditions to foster a better learning environment. A number of students have come together to form business ventures after having worked together here at Florida Tech. Group work is about networking as it is achieving the goal.

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