Addressing Job Skills Expectations By Helping Students Recognize and Apply Skills

Seelio Ed Tips

When I read articles like Job Skills Expectations Unmet (Inside Higher Ed, August 28, 2014), I immediately start to wonder—do students need to develop new job skills or is the challenge that they need to know how to recognize and appropriately apply the skills they already possess?

The article linked above states that:

“Nearly nine in 10 presidents said an emphasis on ‘critical thinking’ skills and personal development is very important throughout college in order for graduates to get jobs. But only about 40 percent of the presidents think their own institution is very effective at providing students with those skills and that kind of development.”

Knowing the structure and nature of college courses, it seems to me that critical thinking is built into the core of most college courses.  This can be evidenced by terms in assignments and syllabi like—assess, evaluate, compare, conceptualize, critique, theorize, reason, etc.  

I think the challenge is that when we ask students to develop those skills, we often forget to teach students how to apply those skills beyond the classroom.

As an example, imagine a class where students are asked to critically assess an article that is core to their field of study.  That is critical thinking.  Now, imagine if the second part of that assignment were to reflect on their assessment of the article and to relate it to their developing philosophy toward their field of study.  That is critical thinking with real life application.

At Seelio, when we work with faculty to integrate portfolios into the curriculum, we emphasize how they can be useful tools for getting students to reflect on their learning as a part of their professional growth.  Portfolios allow for students to constantly take stock of what they have done, to consider what best represents them as a developing professional, and to refine their professional identity over time.

When I look at student portfolios, I find myself gravitating towards those that create connections between their life experiences and what they are learning in the classroom. Just today, I read a profile of a student, Karessa, that starts with…

“College can be extremely tough when you are a full time mom, employee, and wife. Frankly sometimes college can be a big challenge because of those three things.”

And ends with…

“I am very thankful to CTU for helping me to develop not only as a student but also giving me the skills to apply that knowledge to my personal and professional life!”

Students just like Karessa are the ones that make me believe in the value of helping students tell their stories and helping institutions shape their curriculum to make it possible.

Dr. Tiffany Marra is Seelio’s Vice President of Academics and Educational Services. She works closely with Seelio partners to integrate portfolios into curricula so that students are able to make connections across their experiences and prepare for their careers from day one of their college experience. Learn more about her research and background in educational technology:

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Educator Spotlight: Pauline Bary Khan from Michigan Engineering

We asked Pauline Bary Khan, Princeton Review Top 300 Professor and the Director of Michigan Engineering’s Program in Technical Communication, to share about her experience with Seelio in her classes.

Earlier this year she used Seelio with students in her senior-level Technical Communication course and her first-year Engineering 100 course. Below she shares how students responded and why she believes it’s important for students to begin capturing their educational experience in a portfolio from day one.

Pauline Bary Khan shares about Seelio Continue reading

Repost – Academic Leadership: 3 C’s to Ensure Success in the Classroom

On September 25th we’re gathering a panel of experts to talk about their institution’s approach to student success at InnovateEDU 2014. The following is an entry written by Dr. Connie Johnson, one of our partners who serves at Colorado Technical University’s Chief Academic Officer and Provost. Her post originally appeared as part of a series on the PlattForm blog to give a preview of what’s to come. We hope to see you there!

Seelio Partner Panelists at InnovatEDU

Academic Leadership: 3 C’s to Ensure Success in the Classroom 
By: Dr. Connie Johnson

Most people share their challenges, yet few give as much attention to their success. Of course, we can grow and learn from challenges, but there is just as much growth and learning available when we examine our success.

Annually, the American Council on Education conducts its Chief Academic Officer (CAO) program which I was honored to participate in. The event drew academic administrators and faculty from institutions around the country, representing traditional four-year universities, community colleges and private institutions. These leaders came together to discuss academic success, and more important, the actions and behaviors that led to that success. It was certainly a fun, lively and engaging conversation!

After the event, I couldn’t help but wonder: Where is CTU seeing success in classrooms – both online and ground? What actions and behaviors enabled that success?

I posed these questions at a meeting with CTU’s academic and student affairs leaders. What ensued was yet another lively conversation that resulted in the following factors that contributed to our success with students, faculty and colleagues:

  • Community: CTU is known for its community of collaboration, communication and feedback by and between students, faculty and staff. The statement, “It takes a village…” isn’t just a cliché phrase here. Rather, it’s a team-based belief that underlies everything we do at CTU.
  • Clarity: If you’ve ever driven or walked in the fog, you know the uncertainty that sits in the pit of your stomach. We never want that feeling to happen at CTU. That’s why we set clear goals that tie to a unifying vision. This vision starts with leadership and engages everyone from students to staff members. It’s with this intentionality and focus that we are able to make strong decisions that produce successful results.
  • Creativity: One thing we know for certain: close-minded and autocratic styles do not work when it comes to academic life. Students and faculty are inherently creative, problem-solving beings who thrive in the openness and possibility we provide at CTU. It’s this level of creativity that drives success in the classrooms, and eventually in the workplaces where our students flourish.

As we continue to explore exciting and innovative ways to approach education, let’s enjoy, share and grow these moments into more success.

Interested in hearing more from Dr. Johnson?  Register now for this premier event for education leaders, held September 23-25 in downtown Kansas City.

Dr. Connie Johnson is Colorado Technical University’s (CTU) Chief Academic Officer and Provost, working with both online and ground degree programs. She has oversight of academic and student affairs, including faculty, curriculum, student advising, registrar’s office, prior learning assessment and learning center. Connie has served in higher education for 20 years with extensive experience in teaching, administration, regional accreditation, curriculum implementation, and faculty training and development. She is a trained peer evaluator for the Higher Learning Commission, is participating in the ACE Chief Academic Officer program, and is a member of the CTU Board of Trustees.