Becoming familiar with team learning

“You should send your application to Laurea in Hyvinkää, you’d love it there! The place would be perfect for you!” This comment uttered by a coworker during a coffee break was all it took for Johanna Herd, who wanted to start studying. She did apply to the Hyvinkää unit in the joint application round of spring 2017 and was admitted to the Business Management programme.

Johanna Herd

When the studies started at the end of August and the introduction team asked all students if they knew what P2P meant, Johanna was as confused as most of the other students. A coworker had mentioned P2P but had not given any details. Herd was relieved when it finally turned out that P2P means project-style studies. “It was exactly what I needed to know. No sitting in lectures but independent studies in teams and real work for real companies.”

When Herd took study leave, she was anxious about what would happen when she left the familiar rat race and started studying. Her daily life did change considerably, but during the autumn she got the hang of the studies. The flexible schedules and a relatively large share of self-study in the P2P programme was a perfect fit for her. The P2P model concept of “students teaching students” also works well and is an interesting learning model, according to Herd.

Learning the ropes of the model did feel a bit difficult at the beginning of the first projects, and Herd admits she first thought the projects were confusing. In addition to a few mandatory courses, she also took two projects in the autumn and started still a third one halfway through the semester. It was a lot of work, but the projects helped her grasp the basic idea of project work.  The remaining pieces fell into place when she took the plunge and became a project manager in her third project. She encourages all new students to assume the role of a project manager as soon as possible, since only by doing that can they get a good overall understanding of what the project process is all about.

Although Herd had only been studying for about six months at the time of this interview, she has already participated in five projects. During the projects, she also tried out all the roles that were offered. She has worked as a project manager, deputy project manager, secretary, deputy secretary and an active team member. According to her, the most important thing to do in a project team is to work together with others and keep up a positive team spirit and open discussion. This is how the entire team plays in the same end of the field and are sure to score goals.

Herd feels that she learned the most in the project manager and secretary roles. A project manager must be able to appreciate diversity and accept the fact that people have different ways of working She thinks that a good project manager also knows how to take the shy and quiet members of the team into consideration to enable them to have their voices heard as well. Being a project manager offers excellent leadership experience. According to Herd, a good secretary helps the project to adhere to the agreed schedule and takes comprehensive notes of the meetings with the instructor and partners.

When asked if she had any problems with regard to the studies, she answers with a ringing laugh. She says that writing the knowledge bases sometimes makes her cringe, since she is used to getting straight to the point, and that is why the theory portions may sometimes be too short. She also thinks she has room for improvement in finding high-quality and current references.  According to her, studying in English is useful but very challenging. Herd also says that at some point in nearly all projects work starts to pile up and the atmosphere in the project may become a bit tense. When that happens, it is very important to talk things through, even if the project was almost complete. To avoid conflicts, it is also important to remember that you do not need to like everybody. However, you must be able to work together with everyone, and that helps you to value different personalities and appreciate different kinds of situations in life.

When asked if Herd would recommend P2P studies to others, her answer is a resounding ‘Yes!’. That is what she has already done with anyone who might be interested in the topic. It is a Yes’ to Laurea and a ‘YES’ to the P2P study model.

Student Johanna Herd
was interviewed by Martha Koivukangas

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