Program Features | Weatherhead School at Case Western Reserve University

Program Features

A Brief Introduction to the Action Learning Program

Action Learning gives each student team exposure to a real-life business project, meeting both a set deadline and client expectations. The program enhances the educational experience of our students, allowing them to put theories into practice, testing and adjusting their skills and knowledge. Action Learning is a senior capstone course for our undergraduate business students. Student teams are assigned to projects, which address business problems such as process improvement, business growth and planning, organizational development, management control and reporting, or organizational communications. The nature of the projects depends on the interests and needs of the participating organizations.

During the semester the students participate in intensive seminars to learn strategies for organizing the projects and for working effectively with their client organizations. Experienced faculty coaches assist the student teams through regular ongoing coaching sessions. Action Learning spans one academic semester (15 weeks). Student teams are comprised of 3 – 4 members, with each student working approximately 5 – 10 hours per week on the project.

Action Learning teams are comprised of highly qualified students who are up-to-date with the newest business tools and theories. They may, however, be limited in their experience with a particular industry. We encourage project liaisons to be open to student suggestions based on theory, but to also challenge them based on practice knowledge and experience.

By participating in this program, your organization has an opportunity to affect the way we train tomorrow’s leaders. In return, our students will help with a specific business problem using the latest problem solving techniques and business tools available.

Project Guidelines and Processes

Guidelines for Organizing Your Project Proposal:

  1. Identify a business problem or opportunity within your organization with which you would like help from a student team.
  2. Contact Heidi Bocan at should you have any questions prior to completing the project proposal form.
  3. Identify the person in your organization who will be working with the student team. The project liaison serves as the primary contact, meeting with the team on a regular basis to scope the project, provide relevant information, and monitor progress. The liaison ensures the team is given the necessary resources to complete the project and arranges a final meeting at which time the student team will present its findings to members of your organization’s management group. At the end of the project the client liaison participates in the grading process by submitting a team evaluation form.
  4. Complete project proposal form.
  5. After submitting your proposal, you will be contacted by a member of the Action Learning Program Team to review your proposal and to discuss next steps.

Recent Action Learning Consulting Projects

Below are some examples of recent Action Learning consulting projects which may assist your organization in identifying a project. Action Learning projects can cover a variety of organizational problems or opportunities that involve internal and/or external analysis.

  1. Web Site Redesign: The team evaluated the existing web site for clarity and usability, compared it to competing web sites, and reviewed web site best practices before recommending a redesign plan.
  2. New Recruiting Process: The team defined a campus recruiting process, evaluated target campuses for organizational fit, and outlined an orientation and development approach for new campus hires.
  3. Pay for Performance Compensation Approach: The team researched pay for performance approaches in the client’s industry, reviewed client strategic priorities, and suggested modifications to the existing compensation plan.
  4. Retail Marketing Plan: The team evaluated the business growth plans of an entrepreneurial retail establishment, as well as the surrounding market place, and developed a marketing plan to support business growth.
  5. Employee Engagement Practices: The team researched best practices in employee engagement and designed an approach to acting upon feedback collected in annual employee surveys.
  6. Fee for Service Model: The team evaluated the feasibility for an organization’s training department to migrate to a fee for service model for training and development activities.
  7. Process to Evaluate New Business Opportunities: The team designed a process and supporting tools to document and evaluate new business opportunities and to streamline executive decision making.
  8. Social Media Marketing Strategy: The team evaluated various social media marketing platforms, evaluated the pros and cons of each platform and recommended a strategy for how the client could use social media platforms to achieve the organization’s overall marketing objectives.
  9. Order Completion Improvement: The team helped the client solve a challenging business problem—how to minimize the numbers of customer calls to a call center that did not result in an order. The team researched the calls that did not become orders, quantified the opportunity in terms of lost revenue and provided specific, actionable recommendations to the client that would improve revenue.
  10. Student Loan Services: The team evaluated potential new products and financial services targeted to university students. The team made recommendations for how the client could expand their customer base and reduce attrition.