What’s the best way for your students to learn project management? By doing a project, of course!

Project Management: Principles in Practice by Grant Stousland includes a course-long project that engages students in giving back to the community and learning project management skills along the way. Students learn essential project management skills and concepts step-by-step, then apply them in a real-life context. 

This learning resource is designed to prepare students to take the PMP and CAPM exams for project management professionals. Project management students study and implement the framework of project management methodology and processes as outlined by the Project Management Institute, the global standard for project management professionals. 

Students will learn that a project is “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result” (PMI, 2017). A project creates value and drives change for an organization. Many projects can be organized together under the umbrella of a program, which is a group of related projects and activities that are coordinated to achieve a greater benefit from the synergy of managing them together.

Students also learn about the project life cycle phases of initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. They are given examples and steps for each phase. Using these tools and resources, students develop a service-learning project within a larger program called the GIVE BACK Program, and they carry their chosen project through the project life cycle.

A Service-Learning Project for Project Management

Grant Stousland, the author of this learning resource and creator of the GIVE BACK Program, has described the vision and mission of the program as follows:

Vision: To do well by doing good to improve the lives of others.

Mission: Learn the fundamentals of project management by doing a service-learning project that gives back to the community.

learn do give

The GIVE BACK Program helps students learn, do, and give as responsible project managers and members of their community. 

Here’s how it works: 

Within the framework of the GIVE BACK Program, students form project teams and work together to create a comprehensive project plan. Project teams choose a nonprofit sponsor organization, which they work with to carry out a community service project. 

For example, students in the Madison, Wisconsin, area have partnered with the following organizations:

American Family Children’s Hospital
Badger Childhood Cancer Network
Big Brothers and Big Sisters
Briar Patch Youth Services
Community Advocates in Milwaukee
East Side Community Center
El Centro
Humane Society
Madison Reading Project
The River Food Pantry
Salvation Army
Second Harvest
St. Vincent DePaul

Students have undertaken a variety of meaningful, service-oriented projects, including the following:

Food drives
Clothing drives
Essential item drives
Blood drives
Book drives
Toy drives
Park cleanup days
Pet and animal item drives for animal shelters
Putting together birthday boxes and to-go bags for those in need

Students benefit from working with real organizations to learn project management skills, the organization benefits from the dedicated volunteer efforts of budding project managers, and the community benefits from the service provided through these student projects. Everyone wins!

Results of the GIVE BACK Program

The results of the program show that student projects have contributed in very real, tangible ways to their communities. Since the inception of the GIVE BACK Program at Madison College in 2019, students have put together blood drives, engaged in park cleanup days, gathered books and toys for children in need, and garnered support for nonprofit organizations such as food banks, children’s hospitals, and animal rescue shelters.

Students have gathered approximately 12,700 clothing items, 5,000 food items, and 32,000 essential supplies for donation through donation events, as well as raising $23,714 in funds for community causes. Students have also gathered 350 donation items for pets and animals as well as raising $2,785 for our furry friends.

give back program results
Madison College GIVE BACK Program Results, 2019–2021

How to Implement a Service-Learning Project in Your Project Management Course

Wondering how you can implement the GIVE BACK program or a similar project management experience for your students?

Project Management: Principles in Practice contains all the materials you’ll need to use and adapt this program for your project management students. With walkthrough videos, a cleverly designed Excel template that links together all relevant project management documents for the GIVE BACK assignment, a team tracking sheet and peer review sheet, and example documentation of a team project, this resource makes it easy for instructors to set students up for success in carrying out a project of their own.  

This resource also contains quizzes, discussion prompts and case studies, and an assignment for students to complete a personal project of their choosing. These activities, along with carrying out a project in the GIVE BACK program, prepare students to be functional and contributing members of any project team within any organization. 

Give your students hands-on experience with project management, and give back to the community at the same time. Project Management: Principles in Practice makes it easy to use the GIVE BACK program in your course today!