Serving Nonprofits Teaches Students Ways to Apply Course Materials in School of Communication Studies

(part 3 of 3)

The coursework and faculty in the School of Communication Studies at Kent State University provide opportunities for students to participate in in-class experiential or service-learning projects to apply the knowledge and skills learned in communication in a practical situation.

Rozell Duncan’s Organizational Communication, Training and Development Course
In Communication, Training and Development, COMM Associate Professor Rozell Duncan, Ph.D., splits her class of students into five groups to conduct five separate training programs for local nonprofit groups.

Barbara Spencer participated as both an undergraduate adult student taking the course taught by Duncan, as well as presenting to a group of student leaders within the Student Success Program Department where she works. Spencer and her group mates – Alex Grimsley, Kellie Roach, Amy Paluf and Erica Torre – researched, created and presented a training session about diversity to a group of 12 EXCEL Living and Learning Community mentors and leaders.

The objective of the training presentation was to provide the EXCEL mentors with tools to facilitate a diverse environment. “At the end of the diversity training, trainees would be able to create, design and facilitate inclusive activities and environments within the EXCEL Living and Learning Community and also be able to list and identify different on-campus groups and resources that are available to the trainees at Kent State,” Spencer said.

The group identified their training goals for diversity by conducting a needs assessment with the EXCEL mentors. They also consulted with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to understand and convey Kent State’s Equity Inclusion Plan, Spencer added.

Emily Carle, EXCEL Living and Learning Community Coordinator from the Office of Student Success Programs said she “really appreciated the group researching and presenting in a professional manner for [the EXCEL mentors], while also making it fun. Plus, the information and resources related directly to what is available at Kent State, so it was applicable and relevant for [the EXCEL mentors’] work. The session was interactive and informative and most importantly, it left my mentors with specific action steps toward creating an inclusive environment.”

“It was a great experience for the EXCEL mentors to hear from their peers and to know that Kent State is committed to diversity and can be a resource for students and staff,” Spencer added.

Deborah Ellwood was part of an additional group of five student trainers in the Communication, Training and Development course taught by Duncan. The group, calling themselves Crown Act Training, worked with 40 nursing students at Kent State Tuscarawas to train them to use various aspects of Kent State’s FlashLine system.

Crown Act Training conducted a needs analysis on the entire group, and 20 students joined the one-hour training session. The group found that even though the nursing students were not new students, they still did not know how to do basic tasks on FlashLine like navigating Financial Aid, adding or dropping courses or properly using the Graduate Planning System (GPS).

Ellwood said that the group addressed the needs of the nursing students with a lecture and used hands-on methods of training. They supplied handouts and an in-person walk-through of steps to complete different tasks on FlashLine.

“I think this experience and working on this project will impact my decision making process as I tackle new challenges,” Ellwood said. “I learned that I can collaborate with a diverse group of people, market my skills and teach new skills to others.”

“We were able to provide the students with skills that will enable them to graduate,” Ellwood added. “The students left the training with a greater understanding of how to operate the FlashLine system and how to help themselves.”

Pamela Echols-Kelley of University Facilities Management was a participant in a training conducted with a third group from Duncan’s class. She said the student team was very knowledgeable and provided tools for a healthier work environment.

“I think [Kent State] should include more training like this from the students,” Echols-Kelley said. “In the hustle and bustle of the everyday work you forget the things [the students focused on]. You start to forget some of the communications skills… the training wakes you up and reminds you that we’re all trying to accomplish the same thing, and reminds you to be mindful and respectful of others.”


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