Published 04/28/16

MGT 200 class with playhouses

Members of the Management 200 class with two of the four playhouses built as part of their service learning project

Fun and games for some, engaged learning for others

It will be all fun and games today when several youngsters take ownership of custom-built playhouses that go beyond their wildest imaginations but for students in Lecturer Christopher Ratcliffe’s section of "Management Principles and Practice” (Management 200), the effort behind the playhouses is serious engaged learning.

The course requires sophomores to partner with local nonprofit agencies to complete semester-long projects that include fundraising, operations management, event planning, and program development. Ratcliffe’s students undertook Project Playhouse in partnership with A Wish Come True, a local nonprofit that serves children who have life-threatening illnesses.

"They were able to take a disjointed list of project details and turn them into a cohesive plan."

“This isn’t just service, it’s service learning,” says Ratcliffe. “They not only have to volunteer for the organization, but they have to do something that addresses a need for the nonprofit and moves the organization forward. In this case, they addressed a way they could raise revenue and did public relations work for the organization.”

Ratcliffe’s students were the point contacts throughout the project. They pitched the playhouse idea to A Wish Come True, enlisted students from  Warwick Area Career and Technical Center, Chariho Career and Technical Center, Ponaganset Technical High School, and Davies Career and Technical High School to build the playhouses, and managed project logistics, including delivery of the playhouses to campus for the presentation to the youngsters on April 28.

“They were able to take a disjointed list of project details and turn them into a cohesive plan that the class organized and has been leading ever since,” says Ratcliffe. In fact, some of the students “have asked to mentor the incoming sophomores who will continue the project next semester,” Ratcliffe says.

The playhouses are fanciful, with one resembling a firehouse, another a castle, and a third Spiderman's house. A fourth, Ava's Writer Retreat, was inspired by 8-year-old author Ava Milukas. It will be raffled off this year, with proceeds benefiting A Wish Come True.