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Sink or Swim, Psychology Students in Pool

Organizational Behavior course simulates corporate team-building exercises

Knox College students in Organizational Psychology participate in team building games in the swimming pool.

Some made money, some didn't; some kept heads above water, others got thrown overboard -- just another day at the office...

Knox College students taking Organizational Behavior are more prepared for the ups and downs of life in business, after a recent lab session in the College swimming pool.

"The goal is to simulate the corporate workplace, the unexpected nature of some the situations students will face, and the team-building exercises frequently conducted by corporations to increase morale, cohesiveness, and productivity among their employees," said Frank McAndrew, Cornelia H. Dudley Professor of Psychology.

A sample of what the students went through:

  • Paddling an inflatable boat across the pool (shallow end!) through a gauntlet of fellow students already in the water who allowed some to pass through and overthrew others
  • Crawling across the pool on a flimsy floating bridge supported, more or less, by fellow students
  • Finding water polo balls while blindfolded, guided only by advice from a teammate outside the pool
  • Dress code enforced! (From the assignment sheet) -- "All class members will dress as they would for managerial work. Appropriate dress for males is a long-sleeve shirt and tie and pants that are not jeans. Appropriate dress for females is a dress or long-sleeve blouse and skirt with pantyhose..."

Above, Professor McAndrew explains to students already in the water what they'll do in the next game in the series; examples of two other games in the lab.

"I learned that I'm not a strong swimmer," said Ryan Kennedy, a junior from Galesburg. "It was a great way for us to bond as a class. I really enjoyed it."

Allie Bird, on the other hand, had no qualms about splashing around the pool. "It wasn't quite what I expected, but I'm a swimmer and I was excited to get in the water," said the sophomore from Omaha, Nebraska. "It was good for the class, to get together outside the classroom, having fun and also working together at the same time."

"Getting employees out of their comfort zones and interacting with colleagues and bosses under completely different conditions can have long-term beneficial effects," McAndrew explained. He's used the pool in other courses as well. In 2008 and 2011 he brought his Psychology Statistics classes to the pool, using games to generate data that the students could then analyze.

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Printed on Sunday, July 14, 2024