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Oct. 26, 2012
By Philip Gruenwald, media relations assistant
Students in Northwest's psychology of groups and teams course formed teams to plan community activities and raise awareness about a variety of issues. Click on each of the events below for more information.
Students enrolled in Dr. Alisha Francis’ psychology of groups and teams course at Northwest Missouri State University are making a positive difference in the community through what they’re learning in the classroom.
In groups, the students were instructed to design a project in which they were interested, required a group of people to carry out its objective and that could demonstrate an accomplished result when it was finished.
They came up with projects they could take to the streets – literally. The projects include a “trick-or-treat” Halloween food drive, a 5k run and walk, a shoe drive and a supplies drive for overseas troops, all of which are open to the Maryville community.
“The primary objective is to give students a realistic experience,” Francis, an assistant professor of psychology, said. “It adds so much richness to what they understand academically. It’s not just something that we sit down and talk about or write about – it has meaning. And it helps them understand the world around them.”
Trick or Treat So Tots Can Eat is a two-day event co-sponsored by Tau Kappa Epsilon, Alpha Sigma Alpha and the Northwest Dance Company. On Tuesday, Oct. 30, volunteers will collect canned goods from businesses around the square alongside children trick-or-treating for candy. The next day, volunteers will go door-to-door, collecting non-perishable food items from Maryville residents. All donated food items will be given to the Ministry Center.
“We would just like to give back to the community that gives so much to us,” Ashley Robinson, a senior psychology and therapeutic recreation major from Belton, said. “Some of the customers who patronize those businesses along the square are probably some of the customers who will be receiving help from the Ministry Center.”
Anyone can volunteer to assist the group by meeting at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30, or Wednesday, Oct. 31, at the TKE house, 555 W. Ninth St., or by contacting Robinson at email@example.com.
Plymouth Run is a 5k run and walk around campus Saturday, Nov. 17, with a Thanksgiving theme. Participants are encouraged to race in costumes and enter a costume contest. All donated non-perishable food will be donated to the Ministry Center in time for Thanksgiving.
“The entry fee for this 5k is just five cans of food, so it is one of the cheapest 5k runs I have ever seen,” Ryan Culver, a senior industrial psychology major from Kansas City, said.
Although the primary goal is keeping the Ministry Center’s shelves stocked, Culver said participants will also benefit from the exercise of the 5k. The race starts at 9 a.m. outside the Administration Building and is open to the public. To register, contact Ryan Culver at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Facebook event, titled “Plymouth Run.”
Another group is reaching out to the campus and community to give shoes to children through Big Brothers, Big Sisters. With Kicks For Kids, senior psychology major Jodie Evans and her team will collect new or gently worn tennis shoes through Tuesday, Nov. 8. Donation receptacles can be found in campus residence halls and The Station, and off-campus at Beach Tanning, Laura Street Baptist Church and Eugene Field Elementary School.
“Whenever you serve your community and help other people, it really builds character,” Evans, a Rockport native, said. “Serving others allows us to attain personal fulfillment. Giving a pair of shoes to a child is an easy and great opportunity to build our character and sense of self. It makes you feel good about yourself.”
Evans said the group work has been easier than her team members expected, partly because they learned about the importance of group development in class.
“In our class we talk about how there’s conflict in groups,” Evans said. “But our group really stresses production so we’ve gotten a lot done, and it’s just been a really good group experience overall.”
Another group hopes to collect and send goods to military units serving in Iraq. The Military Care Package Collection will be 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5, and Wednesday, Nov. 7. The public can drop off goods at designated tables in The Station. Items also can be donated at a table outside Walmart from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11, which is Veterans Day.
Preferred goods include beef jerky, granola bars, deodorant, iTunes gift cards and air fresheners. The Military Care Package Collection group will have a complete list of preferred and non-acceptable items at its tables.
“The troops overseas are probably really missing home right now,” Kaily Nelson, a junior industrial psychology major from Omaha, Neb., said. “This is a way of saying, ‘We’re still here, we still support you,’ and give them something to look forward to when they come home.”
Nelson said her group wanted a project that was easy for people to contribute and care about. They decided the project without designating a leader of their group, letting their personality types decide instead.
“We learned a lot about roles in class,” Nelson said. “It’s interesting to see how a leader emerges in the group, and who the shy one who sits in the back is.”
The psychology of groups and teams course takes a specific, hands-on approach to learning about the dynamics of how people things interact, Francis said. By constructing the course with in-class lectures for half of the classroom time and group work for the other half, Francis provides students with the education and training to handle the challenges of these events.
“Since I don’t direct the project focus, it’s interesting because to some degree it’s not really comfortable at first,” Francis said. “I’m not telling them what to do or how to do it – I’m telling them, ‘I want you to do something that matters to you.’ And it is so neat to see what matters to them.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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