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The Office of Action-Based Learning Collaborates to Ensure Student Success

Action-based learning is one of the core tenets of education at Michigan Ross. Nine of the 10 degree programs at Ross incorporate Multidisciplinary Action Projects, the Consulting Studio, or the Living Business Leadership Experience as part of their curriculum, giving students a chance to apply everything they’ve learned in the classroom to make a difference with a real organization before they graduate. 

Considering the approximately 200 MAP, Consulting Studio, and LBLE projects that take place every year, action-based learning at Michigan Ross is a huge undertaking with many moving parts. However, the Michigan Ross Office of Action-Based Learning continues to rise to the challenge, always looking for ways to improve the experience for students.

Action-Based Collaboration

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The Office of Action-Based Learning is composed of eight full-time staff members. The team is responsible for sourcing sponsors, performing the administrative work required to run the projects, troubleshooting issues, and providing support to ensure the success of the students and the completion of the projects.

“It’s a group that takes a deep sense of pride in their work, works well together, and feels like a true team,” said Gretchen Spreitzer, associate dean for corporate and external relations. “It is a team that is very mission driven and is motivated by the high expectations all stakeholders have for these programs.”

Every year, the team must refresh all 200 projects by coordinating with past sponsors and recruiting new sponsors. This involves collaborating across Michigan Ross and relying on the support of faculty and other units, such as the Office of Advancement, the C.K. Prahalad Initiative, and the William Davidson Institute, for finding new projects and sponsors. OABL also works with the Office of Marketing and Communications to publicize our programs externally and the program teams to plan the curriculum, make sure students are successful, and resolve any issues that may crop up.

In addition, OABL collaborates closely with faculty who serve as advisors on each of the projects. These advisors and other learning partners, which include research librarians, communication faculty, and team coaches all play a critical role in supporting student success. OABL works to coordinate all their efforts and ensure they have everything they need to support the students.

“I’m grateful for all the other units’ commitment and collaboration that makes these programs so incredible,” said Spreitzer. “There are so many folks that are involved in this, and, at the scale we deliver it, I’m so grateful for the dedication of people outside of OABL. Action-based learning at Ross is truly a community effort.”

Improving the Student Experience

Of the action-based learning programs available to students, MAP is the most well-known and largest in scope, and the team is always looking for ways to improve the MAP student experience. This year, with help from the Sanger Leadership Center a collaboration plan has been developed to provide additional support and coaching for students. As part of the collaboration plan, the OABL team checks in with students midway through their projects, as well as at the end of the experience, to better understand what students may be struggling with and what may help accelerate learning.

“We feel a tremendous amount of pride and responsibility in shaping an impactful experience for these students,” said Spreitzer. “Action-based learning is a long-standing tradition at Michigan Ross and one of the things that we hang our hats on here. We’re really proud to be making sure that all of our students are getting a high-quality experience.”

The team is also excited to release its first impact report this summer which will include a collection of student stories that will help to illustrate the student experience, the scale and scope of the projects, and the impact action-based learning has on the students and their sponsor organizations.

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