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Active Learning and Research
Active Learning and Research
As a member of the University Park Partnership (UPP), Clark University has received national recognition for its efforts to improve the urban neighborhood of which it is a part. The UPP provides management professor Mary-Ellen Boyle and her students with a fertile laboratory for research on local business and management practices, as well as a chance to give back to the community.

Meet the researchers: Learning through service

Interview with Jason Green, David McNamara, Maria Melas, Matthew Phaneuf and Candace Reddy
Service learning projects provide students with opportunities to actively hone their skills while at the same time learning to be good citizens. Students in management professor Mary Ellen Boyle's Business Ethics class are assigned the task of providing free assistance to small businesses in the Clark neighborhood.

Working in teams, students identify a local business, meet with the owner, and draw up a plan to address an identified business need. In a recent conversation, summarized below, team members Jason Green '05, David McNamara '04, Maria Melas '05, Matthew Phaneuf '04, and Candace Reddy '05 discussed their service learning project and the lessons they learned.

What business did you decide to work with?

Matt: Maria and Candace located a salon that was in the process of opening.

Candace: Since the salon was new, I figured that the owner probably needed marketing help. We contacted her and she seemed very eager to work with us.

Our group brainstormed possible marketing techniques like web sites and magazine advertising. We decided to include advertising flyers and a raffle as part of the advertising package.

Matt: Then we divided up tasks according to advertising media type-web site, magazines, flyers, etc.

Candace: Matt created the flyers and we worked together on the raffle.

Matt: I also researched how and where the client's competitors advertised.

Jason: I researched information on possible servers to host the web site, and other background information that we needed.

Matt: When we were finished brainstorming, Dave and I wrote up a marketing proposal and presented it to the owner.

Candace: At the beginning, the owner was particularly interested in a web site, but then she broadened what she really wanted. She said she really wanted to focus on getting her name out to Clark students. She knows that a student clientele can play a big part in making her successful. She realized that a web site wasn't enough, that word of mouth was important and that's where we came in. For example, when we held the raffle last night, people were walking by, looking at our sign and asking questions. Even if they didn't buy a ticket, the raffle got her name out there and that's what she really needed.

Did the owner decide to use your web site?

Candace: It turned out that she had had a web site created by a professional company, although she didn't seem completely satisfied with it. She told us that she was just trying it out and that she might like our site better.

Has this project improved your understanding of the role of ethics in business?

Matt: Everyone asked Professor Boyle what this assignment had to do with business ethics! She said that figuring out the answer to that question would be the hardest part of the project.

Candace: We're learning, as managers, how to be socially responsible.

Matt: Our involvement helping a local businesses is another aspect of Clark's role as a good neighbor in the community.

Were there some challenges you encountered doing this project?

Jason: One of the problems we encountered had to do with communication. We had some problems with the language barrier. There was also the issue in that the salon owner didn't let us know that she was seeking outside help to do what she'd asked us to do. We found out about the second web site after the fact.

Have any of you undertaken independent projects before?

Candace: I think this was a first for most of us, and I think that's why it was a little difficult, at least as far as I was concerned. It was hard not having much structure provided to us.

Maria: Yes, definitely.

So having to structure the assignment by yourselves was difficult. How do you feel now you're at the end of the project? Is there a benefit to having been thrown out there on your own?

Candace: Now, at the end, feel better. I feel we actually accomplished something.

Maria: I want to do go into marketing when I leave Clark, so this was good experience for me. I took marketing last semester, and was able to apply some of what I'd learned.

Jason: The lack of structure is more realistic. In the future we're not necessarily going to have a set of guidelines for every situation in the real business world. We're going to have to find our own solutions.


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Jason Green, David McNamara, Maria Melas, Matthew Phaneuf and Candace Reddy

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