Team&Client -Project Course - developing entrepreneurial mindset and creativity

An example of helping the students to realize their potential, develop entrepreneurial mindset as well as find and use their creativity in a client case.

Reija Häkkinen
University of Jyväskylä

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Muru Linjala
University of Jyväskylä

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Background and Objectives
Contemporary society asks the students to develop their 21st Century skills during their studies. There are several different ways to develop those skills (McCoshan, Lloyd, Blakemore, Gluck, Betts, Leprope and McDonald 2010), one form of which are the project courses where the students conduct projects for clients in teams during a specific course (e.g. Heikkinen and Isomöttönen 2015). The projects are beneficial for the clients but they also give the students such entrepreneurial capabilities they would not learn without organizational partners (Wadee & Padyachee 2017).

Within the University of Jyväskylä we have several different project course realizations within faculties but in this article, we discuss (and develop) a specific multidisciplinary project course, targeted to students from every faculty in the University of Jyväskylä, and which is also open for students from JAMK University of Applied Sciences. This course has been available since 2011 and there have been over 60 client cases from organizations and enterprises in different sizes and industries.

The course proceeds as follows; first the students apply to the course by writing an application where they explain their skills and capabilities regarding project work and explicate their previous project experience. The supervisors select the students for the course on the basis of their applications. The students are arranged into the project teams by comparing their capabilities with the requirements of the project assignment and according to the wishes of the client. The clients may be, for example, local companies, associations or public sector organisations. The project cases are only tentatively negotiated and the team can influence in the project orientation according to their competences and interests. The students are informed of their acceptance to the course and they are asked to confirm their participation due to a certain date. After the confirmations, the clients are informed whether we are able to proceed with their case or not. Students also need to complete the pre-assignment before the orientation lectures.

Team&Client -project course starts with two days orientation to the project work. During the orientation days, the students are made familiar with the project work basics and especially project communication. They are also made familiar with their team members, their tentative project assignments, and they also complete some teaming activities (e.g. Marshmallow challenge and team pitching). In order to complete the course of the course, the students need to return a preliminary assignment and a personal writing task, participate introductory lectures, participate in the project implementation and team’s joint writing tasks, participate in the mid-term project meeting, the final seminar, and the meetings and final presentation to the client. After the course the students are required to fill in a survey where they need to reflect what they have learned during the course.

Team&Client -multidisciplinary business project course is one single-standing course realization in the University of Jyväskylä where students work in a project designed to resolve a challenge of a client for 2,5 -3 months. During the course students are able to develop their 21st century skills in a project provided by a client and realized in a team of multidisciplinary students from both JAMK University of Applied Sciences and University of Jyväskylä. Primary objectives are 1) in finding a right place for this course in Curricula for Degree Programs (OPS in Finnish) of the faculties of University of Jyväskylä and 2) developing the focus of this course towards the skills utilization and entrepreneurial mindset, creativity, development, and team formation.