Experiential Learning


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A glimpse into the challenges that our college students are facing and how experiential learning can open doors to opportunities.

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Experiential Learning

  1. 1. What do Employers Look for in new graduates? (NACE, 2011) • Relevant work experience, including internships • Leadership positions • High GPA (3.0 or above) • Extracurricular involvement • Volunteer activities and service-learningWhat matters in college? (Astin, 1993) • Participation in college internship programs have the strongest positive effect on self-reported growth in job skills and completion of the bachelor’s degree • Students’ academic and personal development can be enhanced by heavy involvementSources of Impact and Positive Net Effects of College (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005) • In and out of classroom settings promote change and growth • Complex process that leads to change and development • Experiential learning promotes critical thinking skills in non-course settings • Students are influenced by institutional characteristics, faculty/staff interaction, and their peer group • College promotes cognitive, psychosocial, attitudes and values, moral development 1
  2. 2. Challenging environments that present new information and experiences areessential for cognitive growth (Sanford, 1966). When students are exposed to newworking environments, this can ignite discomfort or “cognitive dissonance” (Huebner& Lawson, 1990). This is when students learn how to: • solve real world problems • build relationships • identify skills • solidify their career interests 2
  3. 3. Sometimes there is a mismatch between student and employer expectations.Each student requires a different amount of dissonance or challenge. If the academicor work environment presents too much challenge, individuals tend to suffercognitively and emotionally (Sanford).If there is too little challenge in the environment, individuals may feel safe andsatisfied, but they do not develop. By incorporating experiential learning into theUNCP experience, students will begin to find congruence, or a good career fit(Huebner & Lawson, 1990). 3
  4. 4. The perfect career cannot be discovered by sitting on the sidelines.As educators, we need to empower students to get involved. Students will need totest out several learning environments in order to find the right career “fit.” Concreteexperiences will assist with problem-solving abilities, networking skills, and moraldevelopment (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005). 4
  5. 5. UNCP students are facing more challenges than ever before. Many students arelearning how to live independently for the first time (Lowery, 2001). With risingtuition costs, students are forced to take out more loans and work longer hours. Paidinternship opportunities in a rural area like Pembroke are on the decline. 5
  6. 6. Challenge: New graduates are competing with seasoned professionals for entry leveljobs (NACE, 2011). 6
  7. 7. Challenge: National unemployment rate is 7.8% (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012). 7
  8. 8. Challenge: Generally speaking, millennial generation college students have beensheltered by their parents and families. Many are making their own decisions for thefirst time, which may cause anxiety during the career development process (Lowery,2001). 8
  9. 9. Challenge: According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (2011),the class of 2011 had the highest number of students who reported not yet havingapplied for jobs or graduate programs. 9
  10. 10. Challenge: Research by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (2012)indicates that 74% of employers wish to hire new graduates who have relevant workand internship experience. However, not all academic programs at UNCP require thecompletion of an academic internship. 10
  11. 11. Challenge: Students are living in a rural area with few paid internship opportunities.Students are forced to make tough financial and career decisions. 11
  12. 12. The good news? The Career Center and other departments are working to cultivatemore opportunities for UNCP students. 12
  13. 13. Strength: Over 821 students created accounts in the Brave Opportunitiesemployment database, demonstrating a strong interest in on-campus opportunities.Brave Opportunities is a clearinghouse for all on-campus student employment,including work-study, on-campus student employment, graduate assistantship, andHawk Assistantship positions. Research by Astin (1993) suggests that part-timecampus employment has a positive effect on students’ self-reported levels ofcognitive and affective growth. 13
  14. 14. Strength: The Workforce Recruitment Program, The Career Center, and the Office ofDisability Services has 10 students lined up to interview on November 9, 2012. This isthe highest number of candidates UNCP has produced in three years. (Eight qualifiedstudents or recent graduates must complete the online application and schedule aninterview in order to guarantee a recruiter will come to campus.)The WRP is a recruitment and referral program that connects federal and privatesector employers nationwide with highly motivated college students and recentgraduates with disabilities who are eager to prove their abilities in the workplacethrough summer or permanent jobs.Recruiters from participating agencies interview students and recent graduates withdisabilities at colleges and universities nationwide. Over 3,000 students and recentgraduates are interviewed between the beginning of October and through midNovember of each year. In 2011, over 600 students and recent graduates were hiredfor summer and permanent jobs within the federal government and the privatesector. 14
  15. 15. Strength: The Hawk Assistantship Program created 200 paid, on-campusopportunities for enrolled students in fall 2012.The Hawk Assistantship program is funded by the 2012 tuition increase. HawkAssistantships are on-campus positions that have been set up like mini-internships,affording students the opportunity to gain valuable on-the-job experience relating totheir majors.This program benefits students by giving them paid, major-related experiencewithout having to travel away from campus. We know that linking students’ part-timeemployment opportunities with academic experience provides additionalopportunities to shape students’ academic, cognitive, and interpersonal development(Kuh, 1995). 15
  16. 16. Strength: The Career Center launched a residential living-learning community called“Career Quest” in fall 2012.Career Quest is a living-learning community for first-year students who have not yetdecided on a major. Together students explore career options, engage in fun learningexperiences, and declare majors that fit with their unique interests and skills. Thepurpose of the program is to guide each student through the career development andexploration process, while creating a plan for long-term career success.Selected participants live in a community setting on the first floor of Pine Hall andtake Freshman Seminar, English 1050, and Introduction to Career Developmentcourses as a cohort group. Students make connections with classmates, faculty, andstaff advisors while learning about UNCP’s resources.Career Quest members have exclusive access to special programs which includesreserved courses, career field trips, employer visits; community and social activities.In 2011-12, Career Quest retained 31% more first-year students than the universityaverage. 16
  17. 17. Strength: The Career Quest Living-Learning Community connects first-year studentswith individuals from various career backgrounds.In January 2012, students took a trip to the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Baileycircus to learn about careers in the entertainment industry. Host and professionalmusician, Jeremy Papay, gave students a backstage pass to learn about careeropportunities with Feld Entertainment. 17
  18. 18. Strength: The Career Quest Living-Learning community helps students buildrelationships with UNCP alumni.UNCP alumnus and Magistrate, Rudy Locklear, has visited with Career Quest onseveral occasions. In September 2012, he gave students a tour of the RobesonCounty Jail and Sherriff’s office. Students learned about career options in criminaljustice, public service, and emergency management. 18
  19. 19. Strength: Incorporating service-learning projects into the learning communitycurriculum helps students to apply their new knowledge about career development.Each learning community student is required to take Introduction to CareerDevelopment (CAR1010). This course is designed to help students explore theircareer interests and learn how to begin networking and job searching.Students were required to participate in a service-learning project with the PembrokeHousing Authority. Each group was responsible for creating a presentation aboutcareer and job search skills, which they delivered to residents of the HousingAuthority.Several students have continued to volunteer with the Housing Authority in ourcommunity. The 2012-13 Career Quest cohort had the highest participation rate inthis semester’s “Freshman Day of Service.” 19
  20. 20. Employment Statistics 69% of fall 2012 graduates (as of October 18) have accepted job or graduate school offers 10 students scheduled to interview with the Workforce Recruitment Program on November 9, 2012 609 positions were posted in the Brave Opportunities employment database; students viewed positions a total of 28, 913 times 55 employers visited campus to recruit students at the Teacher Education Fair and Career Expos in 2011-12Career Center Usage Statistics 2140 students visited the Career Center in 2011-12 and 49% have visited the office multiple times 95% of students who attended a career workshop said they would recommend the program to a friend 59% of students said their career consulting appointments exceeded their expectations; the other 41% of students said their expectations were met 98% of students who met with a career coach said they have a clearly-defined action plan to address “next steps” in career planning 20
  21. 21. Freshman Seminar Presented to 30 freshman seminar classes in fall 2012 (618 students) 90% of students cited having “excellent knowledge of Career Center services” 100% of faculty agreed the presentations helped to jump start the career planning process 56% of first-year students know what careers they’d like to pursue 21
  22. 22. What our students are saying about what they’ve learned by visiting the CareerCenter:“I learned what I should be doing during my college years. It’s important for me to beinvolved in school.”“I learned about different career paths and student organizations in my major.”“Do an internship to get hands-on experience!”“How to write a resume-- I haven’t written one since high school!”“The resources on the Career Center website, specifically the interview practiceresource.”“I am beyond excited to pursue career opportunities with the knowledge I gainedduring the Career Center presentation.”“I felt very included and feel better for attending.”“I think that I will use the website shown in class to look more into my major.”“Im still undecided about my major but Im more aware of how to figure it out andget information.”“Very informational; learned about services I never knew about” 22
  23. 23. What our students are saying about what they’ve learned by visiting the CareerCenter:“About building a resume and how to look for majors”“About how important your major is how important it is to study”“About internships and my major”“About the jobs on campus I really need one and resume”“All of the opportunities here at the career center, I learned that my interests are verysimilar to my major”“Applying for jobs before I graduate”“Education majors need to take the Praxis. Other than teaching there are plenty ofother jobs for history majors”“Different options for athletic training majors.”“About taking the GRE test for grad school… and that the Career Center helps youwith your resume!” 23
  24. 24. Goal: Share resources across campus to give students the best possible careerexperience. Work with faculty, staff, advancement, and alumni relations to maximizeconnections. If our community works together, we can provide more opportunitiesfor our students. This will help us continue to strengthen our institutional culture andrequire internship and service-learning components in more academic programs. 24
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