Innovative Practices Spotlight

CAE Innovative Practices Spotlight

Dr. Hutto
( Karly Wiest, April 2016 Formula
Five Marketing Competition Finalist and Dr. Hutto in Phoenix, AZ)

Dr. Lexi Hutto, Assistant Professor, Management & Marketing

The Center for Academic Excellence is recognizing a faculty member every month in the CAE Innovative Practices Spotlight to highlight his or her innovative classroom practices and outstanding contribution to Millersville University.

Dr. Lexi Hutto is being recognized in September for her exceptional use of marketing competitions in her Marketing courses!

Please continue reading to learn more about her exciting experience and to learn ways to incorporate innovative practices into your classroom...

1. What Innovative practice did you incorporate into your classroom?

In 2015, an intriguing postcard crossed my desk. It was an invitation to participate in the Produce for Better Health Foundation’s Formula Five Marketing Competition. The previous year, I taught Marketing Strategy and had student teams design a marketing plan for gourmet baby food. Each team sliced and diced its planning, creativity, and marketing knowhow into a different conceptualization of the plan. At the end of the semester, the teams presented their ideas and we compared approaches. While it was a good, strong project, when faced with the Formula Five opportunity, I believed we should embark on this journey. It didn’t hurt that a representative and instructor from each of the five finalist teams would win a trip to Phoenix, Arizona to network with top produce professionals. The chosen student would be allotted 15 minutes to present the team’s idea in front of this esteemed group. Each finalist team would also be granted $2,000 for its university.

2. When did you implement the new practice into your classroom?

I implemented it in the fall of 2015 and the fall of 2016 as part of the requirement to successfully complete Marketing Strategy, a capstone course. The competition was only offered in the fall semester; however, that coincided with when we offered the course that seemed the best match for this project. This fall, we’re pursuing a new competition, the Marketing EDGE Collegiate ECHO Challenge. Student teams will prepare detailed marketing plans to drive sales for Fossil Q Smartwatches. My main motivation for switching was that most students get more excited about technology than fruits and vegetables.

3. Did the students willingly accept the use of the new practice? What were the reactions of the students?

The students expressed skepticism. They doubted their ability to compete on a national level. It struck me that they agreed to go along with this idea to humor me. It’s gratifying that they respected my judgment enough to follow through with it. Although it took until the next semester to learn the outcome, one of our teams did reach the finals and we had another team make it to the Top 10.

4. How has the use of the new practice positively affected the classroom learning environment?

I’m a big proponent of giving students challenges that build their portfolio. When they go on interviews, be it for an internship or job, if they have examples of their work that they can show and talk about, they are more likely to exude confidence and convincingly demonstrate that they have undertaken projects for which valued skills were required. I also believe that when students work on projects for real clients, they take them more seriously and are more likely to put in their best effort. 

5. How has the use of the new practice affected student engagement in the classroom and the level of participation?

Given that our Millersville teams have proven that they can go toe-to-toe with teams from universities such as Arizona State, Cal State-Fresno, Concordia, and West Chester, students know that winning is possible. It bolsters their confidence and positively affects their performance.

6. What challenges did you encounter when you were implementing the new practice?

Team projects are innately challenging as students juggle conflicting schedules, different personalities, and work styles that are not always compatible. While I try to implement procedures to mitigate some of these differences, invariably there are obstacles to overcome. Also, the students have to play by the sponsor’s rules, not the instructor’s rules. That adds another layer of challenge in that one cannot simply ask the instructor for clarification.

7. How did attending Camp IDEA or a CAE Professional Development session contribute to your learning and use of the innovative practice?

Completing Camp IDEA put additional skills in my toolbox. As with students, when I learn how and when to use a new technological advancement, it boosts my confidence and encourages me to try even more new things.