New Course Builds Cohort, Camaraderie

Class sizes at an institution the size of the University of Minnesota can make it difficult for students to get to know one another. That was one of the driving forces behind the development of a new course offering this academic year in the MA-HRIR program.

Stacy Doepner-Hove, director of the program, introduced the MA-HRIR Practicum course last September.  The course was designed to build the cohort of full-time students and provide experiences and understanding to enhance their learning in the classroom, and prepare them for their work in the field of human resources.

All 63 first-year students were required to meet bi-weekly throughout the school year. Before this course, students were able to attend one-off sessions with cohorts, and after feedback from both students and faculty, it was clear there was a need for something more formal, and more ongoing, throughout the year.

Practicum Group Shot

The goal of the practicum was to build camaraderie that can sometimes get lost within a large school, and to allow students to get to know one another, and faculty, better, according to Doepner-Hove. The 90-minute sessions were led by her, along with guest speakers and other HR professionals.

Each session typically followed one specific HR theme, including team building, cross-cultural communication, conflict management, mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and ethics in HR. “These are really popular and hot topics in HR and it’s important for these students to see how something might play out in the workplace,” says Doepner-Hove.

The course is now completed for the year, and feedback was quite positive. “Through this practicum,” one student shared, “I had a chance to communicate with some of my classmates who I might not have talked to in the classroom.”

One thing Doepner-Hove noticed in the students’ feedback was an appreciation for the role-playing and scenario activities. Students said these activities helped them imagine a situation that might actually happen in the real world, Doepner-Hove notes, and believes the students really benefitted from those opportunities, and looking at the themes from different angles.

Given the positive roll-out of the course this year, Doepner-Hove is looking ahead to offering an even better course next fall – let’s call it Practicum 2.0!

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