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Students in psychology class Organizational Behavior with faculty Frank McAndrew, engage in team-building games in swimming pool.

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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Psych Students Tread Treacherous Waters

Students in psychology class Organizational Behavior with faculty Frank McAndrew, engage in team-building games in swimming pool.

by Elise Goitia '18

One after another, students dressed in business attire jumped into the pool at Lay Natatorium, learning real-world team-building skills within an office environment as part of their psychology course, Organizational Behavior (PSYC 267).

Cornelia H. Dudley Professor of Psychology Frank McAndrew teaches the course that includes a pool day.

"What I really want is to get them out of the classroom, interacting with their classmates in a different way," McAndrew said.

The class discusses topics like decision making, communication, organizational culture, and workplace diversity. McAndrew and his students recently covered the issues of work teams and research groups, including retreats designed to make worker groups cohesive and well-functioning.

"The idea is to get people out of their comfort zone and put bosses and employees in the same bubble," said McAndrew. "They're doing ridiculous things, but it forces them to work together and communicate. People come back to work energized and knowing each other better."

"It gives us a sneak peek into something that the corporate world does to increase morale," said Alex Contreras '18. "We've had a bit of a backstory of what this is during class first. Seeing it all play out now is awesome."

Only about half the class gets wet, but nobody knows who that will be until everyone is at the pool. Students filled out questionnaires that determined who would stay dry. 

"I heard about this [class] last year and I was super excited." said Alma Marin '17. "Even though it's for workplaces, right now being a student is our job. Doing things like this that you don't normally do, it's an adventure and you bond with people easily."

McAndrew has been incorporating these types of activities into his classes for 30 years. It began in the 1980s, when he taught statistics. He developed fun activities to collect data. One of the things he did was use the pool.

"I didn't think much of it, but over the years people started taking the class to do this," he said. "People come back for Homecoming five years later, saying ‘Oh, that was so much fun!' If nothing else, it's a memorable thing rather than the usual business."

Some of the activities included students paddling in the raft before being overturned, a floating ball location game, and crossing the pool while trying to stay afloat on rubber mats.

"It was really nerve-racking because I didn't know if I was going to get pushed into the water," said Steffi Antony '17, who participated in the paddling activity. "I had a good time with it, though, because most of the people in the pool are my friends so it was funny to watch them wanting to push me in but [they] couldn't."

Some students also had the chance to push McAndrew into the pool.

"My favorite thing is to see students get so into something in the moment," said McAndrew. "I don't see that in class every day. It's fun."

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Students in psychology class Organizational Behavior with faculty Frank McAndrew, engage in team-building games in swimming pool.

#"I already knew I was going to get wet, but I didn't expect such awesome activities. It was a good experience to get out of your comfort zone." —Dan Perez '18

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Knox College

http://www.knox.edu/news/psych-course-combines-studies-with-pool-time-2017

Printed on Sunday, May 9, 2021