Before classes started on Aug. 22, first-year students at Millikin University became acclimated to campus through First Week activities. Students moved into residence halls, learned the necessary skills for collegiate success and engaged in community service through Day of Action.
Among the activities were Performance Learning workshops, which have become a significant part of First Week. The workshops were held across campus on Friday, Aug. 19. They were designed and led by Millikin faculty members in each academic department, giving all students a sampling of Performance Learning.
This year, Tabor School of Business faculty took a creative route with their Performance Learning workshop by having approximately 80 business students build and pitch a product for a customer. The students competed in teams for small prizes.
The competition was modeled after The Extraordinaires Design Studio creative thinking game. The idea of the game is to choose a type of larger-than-life character, such as a robot or fairy, and an item to design for that character, such as a chair. In this case, the students were assigned a customer, designed a product for the customer and presented their ideas to fellow students.
"This year we wanted to give the students a chance to be creative and to do something that introduced them to the business creation course," said Dr. Carrie Trimble, Millikin associate professor of marketing. "We knew we wanted to do some activity that was entrepreneurship-based."
The activity taught students the business model canvas used in Tabor School of Business courses. One of the winning presentations was a product called the M-Leaf, a timekeeper product for a fairy.
"Based on the information the students had, which is primarily in a picture setting, the students created a tablet that would keep time," Dr. Trimble said. "Another group designed a timekeeper for a wizard called I Forgot. The product would work like an Apple Watch but they tied in a lot of things related to Harry Potter, things that a wizard would need to know."
The first-year students had 30 minutes to design their products and another 15 minutes to prepare their presentations. Millikin First-Year Experience Mentors and faculty worked together to evaluate the presentations and picked winners.
"The Performance Learning activity was a great way to immediately get involved and see for ourselves what Performance Learning is about at Millikin," said Nick Hatfield, a first-year international business major from Godfrey, Ill. "It was neat to come up with a product and make a sales pitch to a panel of judges who gave us feedback on what they thought of our product and our pitch."
International student Blanche Parisot, from Paris, France, says the activity was a good experience because of the teamwork aspect. "It was a good experience because it was a change from other things we did during First Week. We had to make a product and make it innovative. It gave me a chance to meet some of my professors, meet new classmates and understand the importance of teamwork."
Dr. Trimble noted, "What's important is that this activity gives the students some context for what they're going to be studying. We asked the students to focus on how the product solves a problem for the customer. We were looking to see who answered that question best."
Dr. Trimble hopes to use a similar activity for future Performance Learning workshops as well as visit days at Millikin. "It ties in with what we try to do in our classes, the idea that you create something, present it and respond to feedback," Dr. Trimble says.