Article Summary
Mini-projects are short, easy assignments that increase student understanding.
Mini-projects can be used to help students connect course material with real-world applications.
Students can gain confidence in speaking, engaging in class and presenting by doing mini-projects
Dr. Elizabeth Cameron is a Professor in Law, Cybersecurity & Management at Alma College

The unique opportunity to teach Introduction to Business is to inspire students to pursue Business and launch their careers. Engaging students in class discussion can help increase their interest in the course topics, improve their assessment scores, increase their Business majors, and improve retention.
Mini-projects are one way to achieve this. Mini-projects are engaging, short-term, and low-stakes exercises that help students learn course material in a memorable manner. It is important not to make the exercises too complicated or take too much time.
Professors can use a bonus points incentive to grade these projects or mark them up as engagement points. Because students love mini-projects, I don’t award points. These projects can also be scaled for larger classes. They can be done in breakout rooms, with the best ideas being shared with all of the class.
MindTap’s “Why Does It Matter to Me?” and the “Learn It?” assignments have been a great way to prepare for mini-projects as an instructor. Students will be able to better understand the reasons why the content is important in real life by taking part in the “Why Does It Matter to Me?” assignments. This knowledge is strengthened when the professor links the prelearning to a mini project. Students can also learn terms, definitions, and elements through the “Learn It” sections. MindTap’s advanced learning application helps to increase the value of mini projects and result in higher assessment scores.
Below are some mini-projects that MindTap has helped me to be successful in my Introduction To Business class. These activities are based on chapters from my Foundations of Business 6th Edition text. These mini-projects are possible online or face-to-face.
1. What motivates you?
This mini-project aims to help students connect motivation theories with real-life applications.
Before class: Have students read Chapter 10 on Motivating Employees, complete MindTap assignments and be prepared to share one thing that motivates them.
During Class: Have students identify one strategy to motivate employees when money is not an option. This is a great way to see students interact with each other online and in class. Ask students to follow up with the question, “How would your classmates motivate you?” If you assign group work, this will help your students encourage each other.
2. The Key to Effective Decision Making:
This project focuses upon critical thinking and identifying a problem in the decision-making process. This assignment was actually conducted online by me using Microsoft Teams. It worked just as well in person.
Before class: Have students read the chapter 6 on management assigned to them and complete the activities.
During class: Discuss the steps involved in making a decision and then ask students to identify the most difficult step. There will be many answers. Few students will say it is difficult to identify the problem or opportunity.
The fun part is next. Use numbers to create a wild stranded at Sea fact pattern. These numbers can be based on the class size, such as:
“The students are traveling by ship to Portugal to attend a business conference. A sudden storm breaks out. The ship sinks into an ocean, and only the survivors are the students. All others have died. Your professor is not there and will not be looking for you immediately. There are no visible remains of the ship. You can see that four students were injured and six students don’t have life jackets.
Next, have students “tread water” on the floor. Ask them, “What’s your problem?” They will begin with food, sharks and water, as these are all signs of a larger problem or opportunity. Usually, a student will spot an island. If they don’t, then you can add this fact to their list.
Once students have arrived on the island, you can ask them the following question: “What’s your problem or opportunity?” Students will often suggest that they get food, start a fire, help the injured, and so forth. Next, ask the question: “Are your problems over after you reach the island?” Most students will answer no and say that the problem or opportunity lies in “How will I function?” If the problem or opportunity is not correctly diagnosed, more people will try to solve it.