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Student Reactions

15 January, 2016 - 09:21
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There are a variety of reactions and opinions from students in the MPA program to the integration of students and course materials from the educational, public, and nonprofit sectors. Some students immediately see the value of the interdisciplinary nature of the program and its applicability to the world of work. Others see the importance only after graduation when they are actively involved in administrative positions. While in the program, some students express dislike of the interdisciplinary course content and in-class discussions and activities, and would prefer to have instruction and materials relate specifically to their area of interest. Instructors remain cognizant of these desires and make every attempt to address the needs of each group thorough the use of examples, case studies, group projects, and class discussions. Once students graduate from the program and are involved in the application of new knowledge and skills to practice on a daily basis, the usefulness of blending the disciplines together begins to be recognized. As part of an MPA program review conducted in 2004, a graduate student survey was conducted and open-ended responses were solicited. Following are graduate responses related to the interdisciplinary nature of the program:

  • “This program was of value to me because of its wide and broad applicability. Additionally, because the program was so broad-based it attracted students from many different sectors. This was valuable to all of us in the program because it exposed each of us to arenas of public administration with which we were not familiar. This added to and increased our learning.” (Assistant Principal)
  • “The MPA program fosters personal friendship and professional relationships. Since the graduates of the program are from the public, education, and non-profit sectors, a great network is created. If I need information pertaining to another sector, I know I can call a fellow graduate for assistance.” (City Administrator)
  • “The MPA program at the University of Michigan-Dearborn provides an incredibly well rounded experience for those seeking to enlarge the scope of their knowledge, skills, and experiences as it applies to public organizations. I found great value in the way the program included the varied backgrounds of all of the individuals in the program.” (Assistant Principal)
  • “Pedagogically, the classes at UM-D contained a very informative instructional basis. This combined with a very diverse and eclectic student base, allowed me to see real world aspects of public administration from a wide variety of backgrounds and viewpoints. These benefits have been extremely useful in my field of endeavors.” (Police Sergeant and Community College Adjunct Professor)
  • “The sharing of ideas from my peers with diverse backgrounds enhanced the learning experience.” (Public Relations Consultant)
  • “My MPA degree helped me get my two positions as instructor of political science (at a college and a university) and as a freshman dean (at a college). It is certainly a degree I drew upon regularly (as a city council member and as mayor)”. (Mayor)
  • “Valuable instruction in leadership, organizational development, labor relations and financial management; Learning with a diverse student body; A school where teachers and students learn from each other.” (Assistant to the Chancellor and Director of Equity & Affirmative Action)
  • “UM-D is unique in bridging the gap between theory and practical experience. Classmates brought `real world' situations into the classroom while instructors shaped theoretical implications of administration.” (Assistant Principal)
  • “I found the combination business and education environment stimulating and informative. Working with people from diverse backgrounds affords a more real-world look into administrative issues and has prepared me to be more empathetic with parents of school-aged children” (Educator)
  • “The challenging coursework and diverse backgrounds of classmates provided a solid foundation from which to launch a new career.” (Executive Director-University Campus Recreation)
  • “Michigan-Dearborn's MPA program provided me with a knowledge base, which I was able to apply across a variety of professional experiences.” (Technical Analyst)
  • “The MPA program did an excellent job training me to be a leader in the non-profit sector. I would recommend this program (and have numerous times) to any person who has the drive and desire to become a leader in the nonprofit, educational, or government sector.” (University Director of Development)

Student responses assist MPA program faculty in curricular, instructional, and program assessment. This on-going process of program development and course preparation is helpful in meeting the wide variety of students the program serves. Philosophical issues become a matter of discussion among MPA faculty and course content, development, and materials are regularly reviewed in an effort to ensure that each program's requirements and student needs are being addressed.