Professor-Student Connections: Preserving Small Group Interactions

  • Intindola lecturing

    Starting Out

    Intindola starts with lectures, readings and theory and then strives to incorporate unique activities to ensure all students learn.

  • Two business students conversing in class


    Students are expected to recognize differing viewpoints, acknowledge the legitimacy of these and then pivot back to their intended point.

  • Student speaking with Intindola

    Providing Feedback

    Interacting and providing feedback. Intindola builds time into class for individual and small-group discussions so that students succeed. 

  • Intindola working with students

    Group Opinions

    Part of Intindola’s grading rubric involves evaluating the level of justification each group provides. 

  • Students working in a group

    Expressing Ideas

    Sharing opinions related to questions posed by case studies, students must determine how the varying perspectives can be integrated in the final paper. 

It isn’t all about numbers. In the Haworth College of Business, major classes remain small, just 30-40 in any given course, further solidifying the faculty-student connection. But, professors strive to make those same connections with students in all business courses, including a larger pre-business course taught by Dr. Melissa Intindola, assistant professor of management.

 Intindola finds unique ways to make sure all students in her courses feel connected not only to her and the materials but also to one another.

"Teaching a larger section of the pre-business, organizational behavior course, I strive to maintain the same level of interaction and enthusiasm for the material as I bring to smaller classes,” says Intindola, who joined the Haworth College of Business in 2015. Intindola uses textbooks and theory as a starting point to discuss the ways in which students are affected by management and organizational behavior, and incorporates her own work experiences in the nonprofit sector and small business to bring realistic examples to the classroom.

“I strike a careful balance to make sure I meet the learning needs of all of my students,” says Intindola. “In-class participative exercises and discussions are teaching tools I use to incorporate students’ own personal experiences and activities into our coursework.” 

For example, students participate in a negotiation exercise that provides them an opportunity to practice negotiating in an environment where they can become acquainted with their own unique psychological and physiological responses to this high-stress situation.

“Additionally, I do not shy away from group work in this larger class, assigning small student groups to analyze a case study dealing with a class topic. These case studies are important in helping students develop skills related to teamwork, communication, time management, spelling and grammar, and presentation of a formal document.”  Providing feedback to multiple case studies can be time consuming, but Intindola believes individual and group feedback is essential.

 She also urges students to seek feedback on the case prior to submitting work for grading, encouraging students to make group appointments at the business communication center to aid in writing their responses. Intindola devotes an entire period to providing one-on-one and group feedback on case studies. “It's an open opportunity to have a conversation with me about the case material, hear my thoughts, ideas and suggestions, and then take that feedback into group discussions.”

Recognizing the importance of timelines and meeting due dates, Intindola incorporates planning into her curriculum. “I’m adamant that students realize that a due date is a starting point. Each individual's schedule needs to be considered and a realistic timeline established for any project.”

Finally, to break up the monotony students sometimes report feeling despite her best efforts, Intindola invites guest speakers into the classroom, both via Skype and in person, providing yet another way for students to feel connected to the material, business professionals and the professor.

About Dr. Intindola

Melissa L. Intindola is an assistant professor of management at Western Michigan University's Haworth College of Business. Previously, she was a lecturer of organizational behavior and human resources at the University of New Mexico.

Her research interests broadly include the micro-application of organizational behavior and human resources topics to collaborations of private sector nonprofits and public sector government entities. Specifically, she is interested in the resulting implications for employees, volunteers and management involved in such collaborations.

Intindola was recognized for outstanding research in August 2012 and outstanding teaching in August 2013 by the New Mexico State University management department.