A New Meaning of ‘Group Work’

Cheryl Nuzum

Dr. Brent Wolfe, associate professor in Recreation, has taken a unique take on the phrase “Practice makes perfect.”

Every semester Dr. Wolfe teaches a class called Leadership and Programming and

“We can talk about it all day in the classroom, you can pass a million tests on it, but not be a good leader because you haven’t had a chance to go out and lead and do that effectively. So for this class, I really wanted an experience that really allowed them to practice what they’re learning in the classroom so they’re not just learning book terms about leadership, they’re not just learning these theoretical ideas, but they’re putting it into practice.” said Dr. Wolfe.

Each semester, the class partners with the Downtown Statesboro Development and Authority office on one main project: Scare on the Square in the fall and Spring in Statesboro in the spring. One of the benefits of the class is that it is purposeful to the meaning of the class and it also allows the university to give back to the community.

“The service learning component, that opportunity for them to serve and give back in conjunction with their academic experience – to me, that’s just a win-win situation, because we have a chance to give back to the community. Obviously the university and the community are closely tied together and intertwined, and giving the chance to students to give back to the community is really important.” said Dr. Wolfe.

Traditionally, students put on a haunted house every year for Scare on the Square. Other projects typically include pumpkin painting, face painting, and haunted hayrides. What goes into putting these projects on? There’s a lot of planning up front.

“First thing we start with is ‘What are the ideas that you have?’ and everybody jumps right to Pinterest and goes and finds these ideas, which is great, it works. So they do all the background as far as what is we want to do.” said Wolfe.

However, it’s not that simple. First there has to be an idea, but then there has to be a plan. Is there going to be a theme? What kind of equipment or materials are needed? Who is assigned what duty? Importantly, what kind of budget is there going to be?

Luckily, there are two main sponsors for the event – Zaxby’s, which is a sponsor for the entire festival, and Statesboro Oral Surgery, courtesy of Dr. Troy Lawhorn, who sponsors the class itself.

Through Dr. Lawhorn’s sponsorship, Dr. Wolfe is able to provide each group within his class a budget for their projects. However, once that budget is used, it’s gone. The students must then find ways to get donations, do some of the work themselves, borrow equipment, or rework the budget entirely.

Dr. Wolfe is very expressive about the difficulty of his class.

“They really enjoy the class and it’s funny because it’s a heavy workload class. The work is intense, there’s no getting around it, said Wolfe.

This is just only one out of three projects students are required to do throughout the semester. Despite the workload, it’s a favorite nonetheless.

“For me, I’m already seeing them get excited about the project. They’re in class and I’m not having to force them to do anything. They’re excited to talk about it, they’re excited to meet in their groups, they’re excited to push this forward.”

A major component of the class is group work. While students would groan at the mere mention of the word, it’s one that students in Dr. Wolfe’s class learn to embrace.

“One of the things I wanted to teach them in this class is that ‘group work’ is not a dirty word.”

At the very beginning of the semester, Dr. Wolfe begins doing activities to allow students to gauge who they might want to partner with. By the third week, they have picked their groups and begin their work.

The class work is not solely reserved for class time either. Many groups choose to meet outside of class, work together to build props or equipment, make costumes, etc. It’s an all in project, but it works for Dr. Wolfe’s class.

“We do this project and they’re going to be exhausted, but they’re going to feel very satisfied with it.”

To see the Leadership and Programming and Recreation class in action, stop by the Scare on the Square festival in downtown Statesboro on Halloween night.