Make and Take at the college level: student appropriation of collective work

A desired goal for college professors is for their students’ work to be meaningful and applicable to their lives. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. The information learned seems to evaporate at the end of semesters as students focus on vacations, travel, and other activities. So how can classroom learning be more accessible and meaningful? Let the students prepare it and take it home.

The practice of “Make and Take” has been used primarily in elementary schools where students engage in handy crafts such as holiday ornaments, milk carton bird feeders, and decorative pencil holders. At the college level, Make and Take projects are designed to engage students in a deeper level of learning beyond the classroom; specifically, for students to collaborate, create and bring home a product.

Guiding principles

  1. The project must be relevant to the class. Some class group activities are organized in the form of icebreakers, matchmaking activities, or impromptu discussions. Your project can contain any of these elements, but the main focus of the work should be authentic and involve a central element of your classroom.
  2. The project must be a shared experience with the contributions of all. It is essential to involve the whole class in the project. The instructor should also be on board with input, direction and encouragement.
  3. The project must be usable beyond the duration of the class. The design of the project should be something that incorporates classroom knowledge that is useful and accessible outside of the classroom.

Types of Make and Take projects with examples

Individual to collective

In this model, each student contributes an equal share of the homework, which is compiled and distributed to the class. This allows students to share something special and enlighten their classmates with their contributions.

Example: As part of a Issues and influences in education class, students are invited to prepare an annotated bibliography of their educational and cultural influences represented by research, literature, film and other media. Each student is invited to contribute an assigned number of professional influences.

Takeaway meals: The Our influence archives is written by the students, and compiled and organized by the instructor. Benefits of this project include the ability of students to work independently, share work they deem influential, and ultimately own a document that might inspire curiosity.

Group to collective

In this model, students participate in groups to organize and solve a problem. Each group has its own responsibility or piece of the puzzle to contribute to the larger project.

Example: In one Multimedia use class, after researching multimedia resources, the groups are tasked with creating a textbook examining electronic media platforms and programs. Responsibilities include cover and page design, intro, collection editor, table of contents, and finishing editor. Each group works under its responsibility and coordinates with the next group.

Takeaway meals: The Multimedia manual is a comprehensive manual of various multimedia programs. Benefits of this project include increased awareness of the media programs available in a document that can be shared with teachers, parents and administrators.

From collective to collective

This model involves more than one class, ideally in different disciplines. Instructors work together to design a common survey that requires contributions from each discipline. The results of student work in each class are combined to create new collective learning that students can use outside of the classroom.

Example: Community college faculty are collaborating on a project to assess the physical fitness of the campus during a typical school day. Students in an engineering class measure the distances between buildings on campus and the heights of hills on campus. Students in a health class measure walking distances and calories burned between buildings, while students in an algebra class work to develop an algebraic matrix formula to calculate distance measures and of the calories burned in a given school day.

Takeaway meals: The Campus Fitness Info-pack, a set of guidelines and formulas designed to calculate distances traveled and calories burned on campus. Ideally, the Information package can also be applied to other places from the local park to the supermarket.

What relevant products in your classroom can your students make and take away?

Tony Monahan, PhD, is Associate Professor in the Department of Health, Physical Education and Dance at Queensborough Community College, City University of New York, and Assistant Professor in the Graduate International Education Program at Framingham State University. He has taught a variety of education, health and physical education classes throughout his professional career. He has been fortunate enough to work in education programs in New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, California, Canada, Austria, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Dominican Republic and Brazil. He has participated in High Impact Practices of Academic Service Learning, Global & Diversity Learning, Learning Communities and Common Read. He is a faculty member of the Salzburg Global Seminar and a permanent member of the QCC College Advisory Committee for Study Abroad.

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Maria D. Ervin