Parking Lot Paves the Way to Real-World Learning

Published on May 9, 2013 by arothstein

(BOISE) As a steady stream of cars snake their way through the parking lot at the Idaho Transportation Department on State Street in Boise, there is a lot more going on here than meets the eye. While the Better Business Bureau gears up for its biannual “Secure Your ID Day” event, students at Broadview University are about to learn a lesson not typically found in any textbook. Class on the curb is in session—and a lot more than wheels are turning.

Broadview University

Business Program Chair Debra Schmidt (center) likes to give her students real-world experiences as part of their coursework. Schmidt and business program students Nathan Owen (left) and David Gustafson (right) were among nine people from Broadview University who volunteered at the Better Business Bureau’s “Secure Your ID Day” event.

It’s Saturday morning, April 20. Hundreds of cars are about to drive through the parking lot and drop off documents for the free document shredding event. Six students in Debra Schmidt’s classes are here to do three things: watch, lead, and learn.

Schmidt, the business program chair, likes to give her students real-world experiences as part of their coursework. Although the students at this event are volunteering their time, the lessons they are learning are invaluable. Their jobs are to safely direct traffic during the two-hour event. The goal is to make sure everything runs smoothly. Non-verbal communication is key.

“What I found is that people just don’t like to listen—even if you aren’t talking,” Stephanie Birkinbine, a student in the medical administrative assistant program, said. “I kept motioning for drivers to get as close to each other as possible, and they would maybe move up an inch. It was so frustrating.”

“It wasn’t that bad for me,” David Gustafson, a business program student, said. “I just pointed my arrow and it told them where to go.”

Broadview University

Criminal Justice program student Alysha Cossey (left) and medical administrative assistant students Stephanie Birkinbine (right) and Michelle Pratt (middle, background) learn the ins and outs of non-verbal communication as they work to direct traffic for the free shred day event.

The six students—three from the business program, two from the medical administrative assistant program, and one from the criminal justice program—were among the many volunteers who helped on this day. By the end of their two-hour shift, more than 33,000 pounds of documents were shredded on site, 20 old cell phones were accepted for recycling, and 65 computers, monitors and printers were donated to be scrubbed and given to Computers for Kids. Zero fender benders were reported. Overall: success.

This is the third year that Broadview University has volunteered to help with this event. Each time, students learn something new.

“Events like this give students an opportunity to see people in action,” Schmidt said.  “It’s great because you can’t teach exposure like this in class.”

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