Community Building

Submitted by: Gary Beckman

Institution: The University of Texas at Austin

Course Title: "Entrepreneurship in the Arts"

Division Offered: College of Fine Arts - Fall 2006

Demographic: Undergraduates [Fine Arts, Liberal Arts & Business] & Graduates [Fine Arts]

Date: 3/1/07

Learning Objective

1) To develop a sense of classroom community.

2) To give students the opportunity to learn the topics of their peer's feasibility studies.

Student Evaluation Method: None.

Description: When calling upon a student, ask them to recite their "elevator pitch" before answering questions or offering an opinion.

Instructor Comments: One of the core aspects of community building is knowing what each member, or groups of members are interested in accomplishing. In an effort to merge a couple of course objectives into a repeatable and random learning action, this simple tact accomplishes each rather well.

I'm a big fan of the "elevator pitch" - though not in the "traditional" context. By asking students to develop a core three sentence description of their feasibility plan topic and randomly asking them to vocalize this description, a number of things occur.

First, students hear (from their own mouths) their topic expressed, and observe it's reception. (Multi-sensory input can be a *real* wake-up call or a much-needed affirmation for some).

Second, the class is repeatedly exposed to these descriptions. In this case, repetition breeds familiarity and familiarity helps to break down the restrictions of classroom culture, where most students learn and interact passively. I've found this simple tact assists in breaking down this cultural reaction and promotes not only a sense of community, but reflects "open source" culture.

Lastly, as students develop their "elevator pitch," they have the opportunity to test new grammatical and rhetorical configurations. This is a great way to promote a safe learning environment within the classroom community paradigm.