This course is a capstone experience for students in the Bachelor of Business Administration (Human Resources) program. Throughout their academic experience, students have a number of practical experiences, While students have practical experiences throughout the program, the capstone is the first live client experience with such significant autonomy for many of them. To prepare students for this experience, the course focuses on building professional skills and strategic thinking to prepare students for work as a Human Resources (HR) professional. The course instructor prepares students for the experience by setting the foundation for service learning and how to work with a community partner who is dealing with a complex issue.
Student teams are matched with a local organization (often a not-for-profit) to solve an ambiguous human resources problem. Community partners attend the course in-person during week three to introduce the problem and meet with their student team. Over the next few weeks, the students have multiple interactions with the partner to gather additional information about the organization. Community partners attend the final class session where students present their solutions in an 8-10 minute public presentation. After the presentation, students have a final private meeting with the community partner for an in-depth explanation of their proposed solutions.
Students are assessed as a team through a team charter and scope of work, a 15-page research and recommendations paper, and their final showcase presentation. Students also complete individual reflections throughout the term. The community partner provides verbal feedback to the students. When students are assessed on their final recommendations, they're expected to demonstrate an understanding of the community partner’s needs and propose solutions that are feasible and realistic.
Students complete six to eight individual reflections in an online journal throughout the term. Each reflection has specific prompts to help students connect their academic learning to the service learning process and working with a client as a human resources professional.
Key success factors
The project features an engaged group of community partners that continue to return. Many partners are not-for-profits or Mount Royal alumni. Working with community partners also shifted the student’s understanding of these organizations to view them as employers. The first partner in the program pilot was the Mount Royal human resources department, and through working with these students the department has since begun hiring co-op students.
The capstone experience is spearheaded by a dedicated course instructor who recruits community partners.
Course content is scaffolded with community partner engagement, allowing students to develop professional skills and confidence before their final meeting and ultimate transition to work as an HR professional.
This experience gives every Human Resources graduate an opportunity to leave Mount Royal with an HR experience working with a client.
The capstone features a variety of projects (e.g. diversity and inclusion, succession planning), so students can find a topic connected to their specialization that's of genuine interest.
As a capstone project, students are introduced to a new way of learning they haven’t been exposed to over the course of their program. Students must break out of their regular routine and discover a new way of learning.
The course is focused on career preparation through working with a live client.
Service learning is a new topic for these students, so it takes time for them to understand aspects like the principles of reciprocity and reflect on the role of HR professionals in the community.
It's important to optimize the reflective journal by setting expectations for the depth and frequency of reflection, and by helping students understand why the reflections are important.
The ambiguous nature of the course is challenging for students and requires support from the course instructor (emails, office hours). The instructor must strike a delicate balance by guiding students to a place where transformative learning can happen without intervening and providing solutions.