Fusing Creativity and Collaboration

Laura Beaudin believes learning goes further when students actively engage with course content. So instead of relying solely on traditional lectures to convey course material, she creates a class environment where learning takes place with open dialogue and problem-solving; where students learn from each other as much as they do from her.

However, as Professor Beaudin acknowledges, optimal learning requires more than the right setting. It takes passion, and, given the learning styles of today’s student, some innovative models.

Through the mentoring relationships she develops with students, she ties economics to their individual interests. “We talk about Amazon, the airline and travel industry, the ski industry, consumer products, technology—anything they care about.” And she’s worked with colleagues to create an engaging, innovative learning experience: the Principles of Economics Competition.

During the competition, student teams across sections of Bryant’s principles of economics classes are asked to creatively apply economic theory to analyze and provide solutions for real-world economic problems. Students then present their analyses to faculty judges. And since the competition lasts all semester, students build a comprehensive understanding of economics as the number of concepts they can apply grows.

The result, Dr. Beaudin and the faculty team hope, is increased student learning. “We’ve observed what seems to be a number of qualitative improvements in our students after only a few semesters of the competition,” says Professor Beaudin. “Student engagement, creativity, collaboration and their analytical skills have all seemed to improve.”

The competition is sponsored by a Faculty Innovation Grant, a stream of institutional funding that supports the development of new ways of teaching that improve student learning—which Bryant faculty continually strive to do.

The competition itself—as well as Professor Beaudin’s use of active learning—are representative of the immersive academic experiences students find at Bryant. They’re part of Bryant’s ever-growing culture of innovation that holds student learning at its focus; a culture that prepares students for a future where creativity and collaboration skills are key for success in a global market.

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