Learning Outside the Lecture

Learning Outside the Lecture


Share this:

Learning doesn’t always have to be reading from a textbook or PowerPoint, and although theory is important to the basic, fundamental knowledge students need, it is the application that leaves a lasting impression. Whether a student is studying online, on campus or self-paced, courses in each of Hodges’ five schools not only offer a solid foundation of textbook theory, but they emphasize the necessity of experiential learning. To better understand how and why this style of learning works, we are highlighting five courses that offer students a deeper look into their future career fields.

Mobile App Development

Fisher School of Technology

There is a stigma that is frequently associated with the technology industry and those who work in the field. It often includes individuals who sit behind a computer and possess few social skills; however, Tracey Lanham, associate dean of the Fisher School of Technology (FSoT), is working to break down the stigma and close the gender gap by incorporating opportunities for students in technology-based programs to embrace their creativity through mobile app development.

The class was developed in 2014 because of the emergence of apps in the technology industry. Seventeen students are currently enrolled in Lanham’s Mobile App Development course, and they attend class on campus every other week because of its blended format.

“App development is everywhere,” Lanham said. “Whether it is an app to help customers, an app for employees or an app for advertising, it’s everywhere.”

As part of the software development core, the course is also offered as an elective for students in other FSoT degree programs such as computer information technology and digital design and graphics.

Eddy Gutierrez Acosta

Eddy Gutierrez

Eddy Gutierrez, who is pursuing an associate degree in computer information technology and a bachelor’s degree in software development, admits, “A good friend of mine, who is currently a senior software developer at LinkedIn, told me that app developers are in high demand. He said that almost every business is looking for a way to market themselves either through apps or social media.”

Using the Android platform because of its free availability, Lanham spends the first part of the class lecturing and helping students “add to their arsenal of tools.” From there, students use the step-by-step textbook instruction to build an app. Apart from their in-text app, students must also complete an at-home app, which allows for more creativity on the part of the student.

“I like how the lessons show you the content and then you are required to apply similar techniques in different projects, and eventually, you have the opportunity to show creativity by developing your own project,” said Gutierrez.

In addition to the textbook content, students are able to incorporate the native features of a cell phone, including web browsers, calendar and maps.

“Students learn to align business requirements within the functionality of an app, which is demonstrated through their final project that includes a pitch proposal for an app, the app and a summary of enhancements that could be leveraged over time,” Lanham explained. Regarding the pitch, “It requires a larger skill set. They have to be able to sell it to me. If they develop an app for a business, they’re going to have to justify why the app is useful and necessary,” she said. This is where the creative component comes into play, she suggests. “Technology isn’t just straight programming. It can be creative, and in this class, students are able to bring out their creativity, as well as build on the soft skills needed in the workforce,” she said.

By the end of the course, students learn how to take their app and make it a reality. Although they cannot publish to Google Playstore, they learn how to go about publishing their app and creating a viable revenue stream.

For Gutierrez, the class has not only boosted his confidence level in working on and developing apps, but he admits it has also provided the “tools and knowledge to convert an idea into a profit.”

Organizational Theory and Development in Healthcare Organizations

School of Health Sciences

Dr. Susan Anderson is well versed in the area of health care administration. As the program chair for health services administration in Hodges University’s School of Health Sciences, she considers Organizational Theory and Development in Healthcare Organizations to be her favorite course. This is not surprising, as her doctorate is in organizational leadership and human resource development.

Implemented nearly five years ago as a core class for students in the Bachelor of Science in health services administration degree program, the class is taught online as a mini-term course. Students aspiring to become leaders and administrators in health care learn the importance of hiring appropriate people, as well as how to build a staff that creates positive results for an organization.

“Students learn the importance of taking care of staff, how to work with and develop their staffs in order to achieve the department’s or organization’s goals. The contributions of the employees will determine your success as a manager as well as the success of your organization,” she explained. “Health care employees and good employees, in general, are not a dime a dozen.”

As with all classes in the health services administration degree program, Organizational Theory and Development in Healthcare Organizations is offered solely online. Each week, Anderson records lectures using PowerPoints, in addition to spending hours on discussion board questions and responses.

Olena Pidbortseva

Olena Pidbortseva

Olena Pidbortseva, who is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in health services administration, recalls Anderson’s commitment to her students, saying, “Whenever I take a class with Dr. Anderson, I feel presence, involvement and support from her during and after the semester. Her classes are always well-developed, and the requirements for assignments are well-explained, so it makes it easier for the students to have the best learning outcomes and to succeed in the class.”

Throughout the term, students review and analyze case studies based on real-life scenarios. After reading the case study, students are instructed to solve the specific problem using the information learned in the most recent chapter(s). Anderson encourages her students not to search online for the real scenario but says, “There is no right or wrong answer, just prove to me that what you are proposing is a good idea. I want to know what you think, not what actually happened,” she said.

One example Anderson is planning to incorporate into her mini-term B class is how an event like Hurricane Irma could affect an organization and its staff. Students will examine a variety of issues including the appropriateness of staff using vacation days if the business was closed, childcare options for staff and how it impacts liability, as well as payroll.

“The class is different because it creates the real-life picture of how the large health care organizations are structured, how they function, as well as how to find the best ways to reduce the probability of conflicts in the dual-power health care organizational environment,” said Pidbortseva.

Incorporating all of the information learned throughout the term, students must complete a paper addressing the results of an Employee Satisfaction Survey. Anderson explains that the premise of the survey is, “The human resources (HR) department has noticed a tremendous turnover in staff, and the CEO tells the HR manager, ‘I want you to put out an employee survey and find out what’s going on.’”

Although Anderson writes the survey, she explains to students that when writing a survey, an administrator must write it in a way so that each question has an actionable plan. Some of the typical questions found in the survey include “Would you recommend this organization to work at? Do you feel you have the appropriate training to do your job? Do you feel as though you are encouraged to find shortcuts to do your job?

Once provided with the results of the survey, students must take the information and graph the responses before developing organizational improvement plans to overcome the identified organizational weaknesses causing employee turnover and dissatisfaction.

Planning to enroll in the Master of Science in health services administration degree program, Pidbortseva hopes that once she graduates with her bachelor’s degree, she will be eligible to move into a managerial position with her current company, saying, “The knowledge from this class will support me as a future health care leader to make the practical decisions of how to manage and lead the often complex structure and processes of health care organizations.”

Introduction to Business

Johnson School of Business

Nowadays, it is difficult to identify any industry that would not benefit from its employees having a foundational knowledge of business. From marketing to management to human resources, nearly every working professional must understand, to some degree, the inner workings of how a business functions in order to succeed. This mindset, in addition to the needs of the local workforce, is why Hodges’ Johnson School of Business (JSOB) reinvented their Introduction to Business class.

Starting in 2014, Professor Anke Stugk, program chair of business administration, and Dr. Katherine Dew, former JSOB professor, began researching how to reinvent the course to reflect the needs of the workforce. Compiling information from a variety of resources such as LinkedIn groups and posts, posts and articles from recruiters, O*Net online, Federal Open Market Committee minutes, and the local news, Stugk and Dew built a revised version of the course.

Launching as a core component of the JSOB undergraduate program, faculty also recognized students pursuing majors outside the business school could benefit from the course, so they offered it as an elective.

Johnson School of Business Professor

Johnson School of Business Professor

Taught by a variety of JSOB professors and adjunct faculty members, Stugk explains that the course is offered online and on campus in mini-terms, as well as through UPOWER™. The course focuses on the principles of business, including marketing, strategic planning, entrepreneurship, the environment of business, human resources, organizational structure, management, business ethics and more.

“This course is packed with information for students who may or may not be business majors. We have to make sure it is the foundation, but also, if someone only takes this course and no other business courses, this will help them to know the basic of business in the United States,” Stugk said.

On the first day of class, students are required to come up with a business idea, which they continue to build upon throughout the course and eventually present as their final project. “During class, we incorporate the lecture and news and discuss how it [the news] applies to your business idea. It’s theory and real-world experience, what is happening now and where do we see this, and how do we apply it,” she explained.

Beth McGregor, who is pursuing her associate degree in computer information technology in the UPOWER™ program, aspires to open her own business one day. As a student in Introduction to Business, she admits, “In order to be a good contributor to a business, it’s important to know how businesses operate – learn the terminology, the functions and the activities.”

Using an interactive e-book instead of a traditional textbook, students are able to watch videos and access activities that require them to make a hypothetical business decision. Students are also responsible for bringing in news articles, which are discussed in class to determine how the events of the world could positively or negatively impact their business idea. Stugk explains that Hurricane Irma was used as an example of how students could expect such an occurrence to affect their business, its employees and the consumers.

As part of their final project, students are required to perform two types of analyses: Political, Economic, Socio-Cultural and Technological (PEST) and Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT), and they must determine how both will apply to their business.

“This course requires critical thinking and applying theory. It requires students to be innovative from very early on, and although it is called Introduction to Business, it has an introduction to an entrepreneurial theme,” Stugk said.

By the end of the course, students will create a presentation that includes a PowerPoint to pitch their business idea; however, Stugk and her professors encourage students to be innovative, recommending they create videos using the free software, Screencast-O-Matic.

“Intro to Business puts real-world happenings into perspective. This class uses everyday examples and explains why companies do what they do, and why they’re successful,” said McGregor. “Intro to Business is a class everyone should take. It gives you an inside perspective on how the business world functions. Even if you’re not planning on launching your own business, this course provides insight on how your employer operates and how you can better contribute to the company’s longevity and your own personal success.”

Survey of Forensic Science

Nichols School of Professional Studies

Sitting on a table are all of the necessary tools a crime scene investigator needs to gather fingerprints from a crime scene. Using a special brush and powder, the fingerprint appears and a piece of tape is gently placed atop to lift the print – welcome to Survey of Forensic Science.

Led by Dr. Gabriele Suboch, adjunct faculty member of criminal justice at Hodges and auxiliary deputy with the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office, Survey of Forensic Science provides students the opportunity to learn the basics of forensic disciplines.

“Students learn about crime scene investigation and are provided with the tools of the trade. The class is less about theory and more about application,” Suboch explained. From notetaking/report writing, fingerprinting to bloodstain pattern analysis to crime scene photography, she provides an applied approach to learning.

The course is a core component of the Associate in Science in criminal justice degree program and takes the blended approach, which means students attend class both online and on campus. During the weeks spent in class online, students are responsible for an essay, quiz and participation in discussion boards; however, when attending class on campus, they discuss a chapter, provide an article on the topic covered in the chapter and perform a hands-on activity.

Each week, students are expected to bring their tools of the trade: a measuring tape or ruler, flashlight, notepad and pen, and if possible, a camera.

In comparison to other criminal justice courses offered at other schools, Suboch explains that Hodges’ program is more widespread and applicable to the workforce, saying, “We have the capability of taking the students to see the real world.” Survey of Forensic Science focuses less on textbook and PowerPoint instruction and more on providing students the opportunity to learn experientially. Suboch, who volunteers with the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office with crime scene investigations, including homicides, is an expert in bloodstain analysis and often shows students cases from real crime scenes she has previously worked.

Katherine Villalona

Katherine Villalona

Katherine Villalona, who is currently pursuing an associate degree in criminal justice, is a student in Suboch’s class and enjoys the opportunity to learn through hands-on experience, saying, “I’ve always learned about different procedures but I never got to practice them. The other day, we learned how to do a shoe casting!”

In week 13 of the class, Suboch provides her students with two mock crime scene scenarios, both of which require students to compile all of the information learned throughout the semester and actively work the crime scene.

“I expect the students to write up a report, take photos of the scene, provide sketches and measurements and take notes,” Suboch said. On the last day of class, students participate in a mock court, each taking turns serving as the judge, defense attorney and prosecutor. Each student then testifies to his/her own report and photos, defending his/her work on the witness stand. “It teaches them that they must be 1,000 percent accurate because otherwise, you’re going to be sitting in a courtroom and be in big trouble,” she explained.

Apart from the in-class activities, Suboch also believes in letting students hear from local experts in the field. By inviting local judges, attorneys and detectives into the classrooms, students benefit from the knowledge experts can provide.

“I never knew too much about this side of criminal justice, so it’s opening my eyes to more options in the future regarding my career,” said Villalona.

Referring to the class as having the “CSI effect,” she wants students to understand that forensic investigation is not what television shows portray. “It is tedious work, and you must pay close attention to detail. You only get one shot to work a crime scene, and there is absolutely no room for shortcuts,” she said.

Alcoholism and Chemical Dependency Counseling & Community Practice I

Nichols School of Professional Studies

Two students sit at a table facing each other with one acting as the counselor and the other a client. The conversation gradually deepens from “What brought you here today?” to “How does your family feel about your drinking?” Using strategic questioning to determine the “Stage of Change,” the role-play exercise allows students to practice various methods of counseling treatment on an individual battling alcohol/chemical dependency.

Taught by Professor Caroline Hofmann, Alcoholism and Chemical Dependency Counseling & Community Practice I is part of the Substance Abuse Certification program offered as part of the Bachelor of Science in applied psychology program.

Unlike other schools, Hodges’ substance abuse certification fulfills the education and training requirements set forth by the Florida Certification Board. In addition to the courses, students must spend 3,000 (documented) hours working in the field of addiction, have 300 hours of direct supervision and sit for the state exam in order to become a Certified Addictions Professional (CAP). Hofmann explains that other schools require students to earn their bachelor’s before paying to take additional classes to become a CAP.

“The class focuses on teaching students different methods of alcohol/chemical dependency treatment, as well as discussing models and techniques, and the importance of family when it comes to treating addiction,” Hofmann explained.

While chapter reading is important to understanding the methods used in treatment, Hofmann’s style of teaching is not to read from a PowerPoint or textbook, but instead, lead and encourage discussion among the class. Alongside her teaching assistant, Eugene Tarwid, who has been working in the field for more than 40 years, the two work together to explain real-world scenarios and techniques, giving students the opportunity to discuss and practice.

Colin Roe

Colin Roe

“I really enjoy the role-play because they’re scenarios we may experience as a counselor. Instead of just reading about it, we’re taught how to do it. Then we get to sit down and interact with another person and experience those situations that would come up in a counseling relationship,” said Colin Roe, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in applied psychology.

“We practice role-playing for building counseling skills, which most people don’t receive until their master’s program. The basics include body language, how to listen, how to reflect, how to be in sync with a client and how to de-escalate,” Hofmann said. “Students also learn about motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy, which are the two mainstays of addiction treatment a counselor at a bachelor’s level would be allowed to perform.”

Role-play isn’t the only experiential learning students receive. Throughout the 15-week course, students participate in two field trips, Mental Health Court and Drug Court, in addition to hearing from guest speakers.

While attending Mental Health Court, students observe the proceedings of individuals who have committed crimes and who struggle with mental illness. According to the 20th Judicial Circuit of Florida, Mental Health Court is “a voluntary alternative to the traditional court system,” and Hofmann adds, “is almost all “co-occurring;” meaning there are mental health and substance abuse disorders.” Although similar to Mental Health Court, Drug Court is a specialized drug and alcohol treatment program for individuals in the criminal justice system who struggle with substance abuse.

Donnice Weaver

Donnice Weaver

For Donnice Weaver, who is also a student in the applied psychology bachelor’s program, this class not only provides the tools and instruction to become a successful counselor, but it helps her to learn more about herself.

“You get a sense of self in this class. You really get to learn about the personalities, disorders and trauma and how it affects other people and even trauma in our own lives,” she explains.

While many of the psychology classes at Hodges are offered on campus or online, Hofmann explains the reason why the course, as well as the other substance abuse certification courses, is available solely on campus. “Role-play is extremely important, and being able to learn how to sit with a client face-to-face is essential. We’re teaching the basics, and we want them to be solid,” she said.

“I love watching people grow, and people learn a lot about themselves in this class. When my students leave, I want them to have the basic therapeutic skills so that when they sit down with a client, they are comfortable and unafraid.”