T-Shirt Idea: Juniata Business Class Learns by Doing
(Posted December 9, 2013)
HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- When studying certain disciplines, there's only so much a student can learn through theory. Sometimes students need to gain actual real-world experience.
This is exactly what Ann Echols, associate professor of accounting, business, and economics at Juniata College, is trying to do with the students in her service-learning class, "The Management Process."
"We study what it's like to be a leader of a company," says Echols. "But our textbook doesn't really do the topic any justice unless students can get out there and get dirty. So they're getting dirty."
This semester the class is partnering with the Blair County chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters, which is approaching its 25th anniversary. There are two sections of the class, but all groups within both sections are tasked with raising money for Big Brothers Big Sisters.
"The students came up with the idea that they could create and sell T-shirts," says Echols. "This allowed students to be creative, form their own teams, and carry out their own mini-business, so to speak."
"I try to empower the students. So far it's been really great. People are interested in buying these shirts, and not just the students themselves. Service-learning is not as easily controlled as in-class, structured lessons, but the students are definitely engaged."
Ann Echols, associate professor of accounting, business and economics
The class is working with Spotted Lizard Printing and Graphics, located in Bellefonte, Pa., to produce the T-shirts. All designs had to be approved before students were allowed to sell them.
"We have a lot of interesting shirt ideas going on out there," says Echols. "But this is not a well-trodden path, so it's very important to me that the integrity of both the school and Big Brothers/Big Sisters remains solid."
One of the two classes is not only selling T-shirts to raise money, but has also executed other fundraisers as well, including a glow dance party, a pizza roll sale, and soliciting donations. Sophomore Adena Delozier, of Hollidaysburg, Pa., is one of the leaders in this class.
"I've learned how not to be a micromanager," says Delozier. "We've learned to delegate tasks, and other theories with management. But a lot of it really comes down to trust. You have to trust everyone else in the class to do what needs to be done, like handling real money and maintaining real relationships."
"I try to empower the students," says Echols. "So far it's been really great. People are interested in buying these shirts, and not just the students themselves. Service-learning is not as easily controlled as in-class, structured lessons, but the students are definitely engaged."
"It's definitely more helpful than just learning out of a book," says sophomore Michaela Lacek, of New Tripoli, Pa. "Imagine you are in a class at Penn State with 500 people, all learning out of a book, rather than getting this hands-on experience."
By John Dubensky
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