Bryant pushes freshmen out of comfort zones

By Patricia Daddona
PBN Staff Writer

Bryant University freshman Andrew Morgan did not like giving up three days of winter for a course that earned him a single credit. More

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HIGHER EDUCATION

Bryant pushes freshmen out of comfort zones

COURTESY PAT O’CONNOR
LEARNING THE ROPES: Rhode Island Community Food Bank CEO Andrew Schiff, left, explains his organization’s operations to freshmen in Bryant’s experiential learning program: Innovation and Design Experience for All.

By Patricia Daddona
PBN Staff Writer

Posted 2/10/14

Bryant University freshman Andrew Morgan did not like giving up three days of winter for a course that earned him a single credit.

Worse, as the Innovation and Design Experience for All program got underway last month before the semester officially even began, he was frustrated to learn from his student mentor, junior Renee Lawlor, that creating a PowerPoint model of the project he was embarking on with four other freshmen would not be acceptable. But that frustration soon gave way to the realization that the more challenging route might be best.

“Even when we wanted to take the easy way out, she made us create the app,” said Morgan.

Using the Web-design site Weebly, their app, which actually functions, makes it easier for Providence hotel guests to discover and explore the surrounding cultural attractions, restaurants and historical sites.

Over the three-day program, with days for some teams stretching from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. the next morning, Lawlor’s stipulation carried its own rewards. Morgan’s team, which included fellow freshmen Daniel Cash, Jacob Garfinkel, Leah Rossi and Ashley Thibodeau, would go on to create a winning prototype, one of 12 winners in the program.

The IDEA program, refined in its second year, is an immersive, entrepreneurial, boot-camp-style course, part of Bryant’s “First-year Gateway Initiative.” The Gateway initiative, required of all 893 freshmen, uses a 13-credit core curriculum designed to improve writing proficiency, critical thinking, cultural awareness and ethical reasoning.

During the program, students with differing personalities are put in teams of five, which are in turn organized in cohorts of five teams each, and overseen by more than 100 mentors that include upperclassmen, alumni, staff and faculty, said management professor Michael Roberto.

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