Building the Concept of Entrepreneurship through Experiential Learning
With the management promising to invest in the infrastructure, the students and the Faculty began working on creating the simulated units. Brainstorming sessions led to the formation of an organogram that ensured every unit’s contribution in sustaining the set-ups. The two simulated units, In-Xitu and DEXIC, with their initial infrastructure set up by the College management, are now exclusively operated by students.
The student think-tank spelled out their vision-mission statement, which guides every working batch of students. The students are board members of the simulated unit and divide themselves into different departments like Research and Development, Quality Assurance and Control, Human Resources and Finance, Marketing, Production and Product Designing with a Chief Operating Officer (COO) and a CEO. The organogram enables them to learn the running of a company. The students themselves manage production and product development, research and innovation, finance and budgeting, human resource management and administration, marketing and sales, and quality control and assurance. It is a small-scale, non-profit unit with earnings only for self-sustenance. The units manufacture tissue cultured plants (as gift articles), decorative gel candles, multipurpose soap solutions, liquid toilet cleaner, petroleum jelly and cold cream.
The students are expected to follow the standard operating procedures at all times, especially for accurate handling of instruments and equipment, consumables and resources, and for coordination among different departments. They also learn to maintain records and documents to be audited at the end of their tenure. Every year, the outgoing batch mentors the juniors before handing over the Unit to them. Students also have periodic meetings to evaluate whether their objectives are achieved, and to find possible solutions or alternative strategies if needed.
The evaluation is based on reviews by Faculty as well as peer evaluation. This practice enables every student to recognize his/her strengths and develop entrepreneurial qualities. It emphasizes both technical skills and soft skills as important for growth.
The initial setting up of the simulated units was a challenge which was overcome thanks to financial investment by the Management. The necessity of students having to work before and after College hours was a constraint. The continuum can also be affected by college exams. There are also difficulties in handling non-working assets (a few students who shirk responsibilities), but the maturity evolved in other members ensures that the unit progresses. These challenges, however, also contribute to the process of learning.
Problems Encountered and Resources Required
The problems encountered:
Due to academic responsibilities, the students’ ability to meet deadlines is compromised.
The lack of adequate infrastructural facilities, seed-funding, and funds for promotional activities remain limited,.
Difficulty in procuring good quality raw materials
In addition to the above, the low cost and good quality of the products manufactured in DEXIC and In-Xitu have led to many retailers approaching the College to place large orders. However, these are training units and not registered manufacturing companies; and, therefore, cannot provide goods to local retailers. Hence, revenue generation which can be increased manifold is not being achieved.
This practice encompasses the vision of the institution, as the experience builds capable, social, ethical and economically responsible citizens.
Extension of classroom learning to constructive learning in order to broaden their horizon
A need was felt to build a constructive atmosphere for education without limiting it to classrooms and labs. Additionally, an opportunity to build the values of volunteerism, nurturing creativity, and creating ideas in students was also required. Thus, the practice of departmental events was initiated in various departments as a method for experiential learning and helping the students to know their standing outside their comfort zone. The events involve many competitions and provide a big platform for learning and communicating subject knowledge. Moreover, these events involve almost all the students of the department and bring a feeling of oneness among them. The events are generally planned and executed by the students. They have to actually understand the nuances of their subjects and allied branches;. This brings fun into learning for the students.
The departmental events are interestingly named as “BiocalyX”, “Ecofest”, “Chem Cho,”, etc. These are now annual events marked in the academic calendar of the respective departments. The events are conducted by the students of the department, for students of colleges from across the State.
BiocalyX: A theme which is relevant to the current year is chosen. In the past, BiocalyX has been conducted with the themes of ‘Ease the Disease’, ‘Virus goes Viral’, “Personale curatio”, Ämazeing Mastishq”, etc. Activities such as Bioquiz, Scientific cartooning, Poster presentation, Decode the conundrum are conducted to assess knowledge, originality in thinking, skill and creativity. The practice ensures that the students have a plan, which they execute and which enables them to reach out to students from other institutions. A competitive environment is created by inviting experts in the field to evaluate the various competitions and share their experience and knowledge.
Chem Cho: A working model competition along with games involving chemistry where some very interesting games are designed to be played with periodic table, chem-hunt done using chemical clues, chem charades a popular game based on laboratory apparatus. Such events ensure that chemistry can be learnt not only with chalk and duster in the classroom but could be imbibed by playing such games.
Ecofest: It is a two-day festival which consists of competitions and games in the area of Economics. All the activities are designed and conducted by the students of St. Xavier’s College and students from other colleges across Ahmedabad and Gujarat are invited to participate.
Physics for tomorrow: The advanced Physics (B.Sc) is a three week summer residential program for motivated B.Sc. Students. Along with our College Gujarat Science Academy, Vikram Sarabhai Community Science Centre, PRL, IPR, ISRO join together to conduct this program. Experts from these institutes conduct interactive lectures followed by tutorials where the focus is on problem solving. This allows students at an early stage in their education to come in contact with scientists who are actively engaged in research.
Celebration of days: A regular practice is to celebrate days like Sanskrit divas, Matrubhasha divas, Hindi divas, Statistics day. Creative events and high student involvement is the common denominator of all these ‘days’.
Along with these certain other events are organized by departments to sensitize students towards preserving our environment by recycling solid waste management, by monitoring air quality, etc.
The challenge is in having better participation from other colleges in the State. Event funding by Government organizations or sponsorship by private institutions also proves to be a challenge. The events need to become more visible and more efforts are required to create awareness of the programs. Participation from students of other institutions will definitely make it an invigorating environment for exchange of ideas. Good participation also depends on how an event is organized, and though each year the planning and organizational skills have improved, there is always scope for improvement. More departments also need to be encouraged to follow suit.