Students Learn By Doing

Rob Taylor with the Iowa Quality Center Student TEAMS Program gives some last minute instructions to students on Friday afternoon.

Rob Taylor with the Iowa Quality Center Student TEAMS Program gives some last minute instructions to students on Friday afternoon.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – The flowcharts are on the wall, as students work on a process that could help them solve real-world problems in the coming weeks. For now, they are practicing on a fictitious problem.

The Iowa Quality Center Student TEAMS Program. TEAMS stands for Teen, Evaluating, Analyzing and Measuring Systems.

“It’s problem-solving, it’s critical thinking and how to improve systems,” explained Rob Taylor. Taylor has been bringing the program for the past several years.

Taylor says the instructors have to refrain from telling students how to problem solve, but just remind them of the overall objectives to improve, ask for data, and the students come up with their theory of improvement.

Students use the things they have learned in school to solve real-world problems. “We’re using team building skills even,” added Taylor. “That’s a key point. It’s easy, everybody likes to be the problem solver, but to do it in a team, it helps to have some tools and some structure to come together with those ideas.”

Taylor says he sees the students progress from the initial challenges of what am I doing, why are we doing this. “We hit some foundational principals to help them understand the importance of the customer and quality and system thinking. You can go and fix this one overall part of a system, but if it doesn’t improve everything else overall, it may not be the most valuable. It may hurt something else.”

“So, one of the challenges [is] helping them get some of the foundational principals, the building blocks, helps them get to why were using these tools,” added Taylor.

It’s not uncommon to see some shy, uncertain individuals come into the process and walk away more confident. There have also been strong individuals who have the propensity to want to be in charge, be challenged in working with teams. “That’s life. You have to learn how to work together. We can’t always be the leader,” says Taylor.

On Friday, the students were wrapping up their two days of in-class training, as they prepared to take their new skills into the workforce, to face a real-life problem being faced by an area employer.

There have been positive results from the training, where the student teams have developed solutions that proved to be successful for at least one company locally.

Taylor thanked Clow Valve, Musco, and Cablevey for being partnering businesses for the students. Hy-Vee also provided food for the participants.

Tom Flaherty, Director of Mahaska County Development Group, was on hand to see and learn how the process works, and how it can help area businesses.

“This is the first time I’ve personally had a chance to witness this. However, I have talked to other business leaders who have had very good success with this program, so I’m encouraged to see more and to follow these students.”

“This is giving them [students] the real-life problem-solving skills that our companies are looking for,” added Flaherty.

Oskaloosa High School Principal Stacy Bandy is no stranger to utilizing sessions like the one being done on Friday. He’s spent time talking around the state about apprenticeship programs, and programs just like the one held on Friday.

“We’re in need of a good workforce, and what they need is exactly what is happening in there [media center], in being able to study the system, find continual improvement and work towards it,” said Bandy of the TEAMS Program.

“We’re trying to get our kids to think critically, be able to communicate what is needed and collaborate together to find that median,” added Bandy.

“I’ve been pushing this. I’ve talked about it in three different areas across the state at Future Ready Iowa. I’ve also done an apprentice day down in Ottumwa, and I continue to talk with groups here in town about the same thing,” said Bandy.

“We’ve seen the successes our kids of had,” explains Bandy on why he is such an advocate for this type of learning.

The education system in Iowa is changing, as education is looking to help more students be ready for the workplace right from school, and not as focused on making every student college ready.

“Not every kid is a four-year college graduate. They have all different kinds of interests. They may want to go into a tech field. They may want to go to a junior college or community college. They have all different walks of life that they want to get to. So we want to help that,” explains Bandy. “These kids have lots of interests, and we want to meet them where that’s at.”

Posted by on Feb 17 2019. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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