Authentic Learning at Ken Garff Honda
If students are to fly on their own, at some point they have to close the books and get their hands on the controls, believes Scott Newman, an instructor at LDS Business College.
In the case of students in his principles of marketing class, that meant sitting in meetings with the boss and looking under the hood with a mechanic at Ken Garff Honda in Salt Lake City.
During the semester, students spent hundreds of hours observing procedures while shadowing employees to learn the various functions and challenges of the Salt Lake auto business.
Students then culled hundreds of ideas for improvement and selected several of the best to present to Wayne Petersen and his administrative staff. Near the showroom, with occasional wisps of the new car fragrance and the gleam of shiny new autos, students suggested there was money to be made by tapping into the international student market.
Half of the students in the class hail from countries outside the U.S., making the observation both obvious and personal. “We interviewed parents who sent their children here,” said Alexandre Oliveira. “They are interested in transportation for their children, but have a hard time finding a good car that’s affordable and reliable while living so far way.”
They also showed some out-of-the-box thinking by relating how a practice in the restaurant business could be used to minimize the time a car sits idle in a work bay.
One of the real benefits of the meeting came when Petersen turned the tables and essentially turned the students into a focus group by asking questions to learn about student buying practices.
The auto industry is complicated, noted Petersen, but the students offered enough details and observations for thought.
“As an applied skills college, we only have two years to prepare a student for the working world,” said instructor Newman. “Every class has to be hard hitting, with hands-on fundamentals so they can go out and demonstrate proficiency.”
Such authentic learning experiences are a win-win situation, Newman added. “Business owners profit from the research and observation of two dozen bright students, and the students benefit by firsthand exposure to how companies operate and develop solutions to challenges.
“Rather than lectures and case studies, these students apply what they’re learning in class to the real world. Businesses will want to have our students create a win-win for them.”