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Best Practices for Connecting Classes to Careers

Bringing Best Practices to Life: Competency Based Learning at the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work

Seelio Best Practice: Define explicit learning outcomes at the beginning of the student experience so that students know from the beginning what they are working toward and can recognize and document mastery of skills along the way.

University of Michigan's School of Social Work on Seelio

We’ve seen this best practice along with many others in our work with the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work (UM SSW). Mary Ruffolo, Ph.D., a UM SSW Professor and Director of the Continuing Education Program, has been using Seelio in her classes for over a year and has invited us into the process of exploring how portfolios can impact student confidence in connecting learning experiences to career goals.

Last summer, we collaborated with Mary to develop a web-based course that UM SSW graduate students could take to build a professional online portfolio to demonstrate the 13 core competencies they develop throughout their master of social work program at UM SSW. The 1-credit web-based course employs online modules, virtual meetings, and virtual group work to support students in developing an integrative learning portfolio.

The course curriculum explicitly focuses on helping students identify their professional goals and develop adaptive expertise, or the ability to draw connections between their studies and experiences as a professional social worker. With self-paced reflective activities, students are challenged to reflect on their key learning experiences, their top skills, and how they want to present those experiences in their upcoming job search. Group feedback through virtual meetings as well as community features on Seelio like comments, likes, and private messages, allow students to share their experiences and gain valuable insights from their peers and advisors.

Validating Our Hypothesis on the Impact of Portfolios on Student Confidence

We hypothesized that this combination of competency-based learning, reflection, and portfolio development would increase students’ confidence in their ability to articulate skills and learning experiences in a professional context. Two rounds of pre- and post-surveys of participating students validated our hypothesis–  students reported increased confidence and optimism in their professional development and their ability to apply competencies from their degree program to their future as social work professionals.

Specifically, across two semesters, students in the web-based course showed significant gains in their:

  • comfort applying facts, theories, or methods to practical problems or new situations (p=.0001);
  • confidence articulating their goals (p=.018) and key learning experiences (p=.049); and
  • confidence presenting their work to potential employers (p=.009).

Hear From Students & Learn More About Our Process

Two students recorded brief video segments to share more about their experience in the course. See what Aaron and Katie had to say. You can also find more details about the course and our work with UM SSW in a presentation we gave at the Online Learning Consortium’s Annual Meeting last October:

At Seelio, we apply these same best practices in our portfolio implementations across our partner programs, collaborating with faculty to identify the best fit for their courses and measuring and evaluating progress at each step along the way. At the end of the day, our goal is to empower students like Aaron and Katie to confidently pursue their professional goals with a digital identity that allows them to easily showcase their 21st century skills.

Learn more about our best practices here, and see examples from UM SSW students in the UM SSW Seelio Showcase.

Partner Spotlight: Differentiating Programs Through Brand Ambassadors

DOCUMENTING DIFFERENTIATORS WITH BRAND AMBASSADORS

Each of our partners has a story they want to tell about their programs. Whether it’s the impact of experiential learning, the flexibility of online courses, or a commitment to career preparedness, institutions are recognizing that current students can be the perfect brand ambassadors to give a real perspective of what learning looks like in their college or university.

“Eduventures data indicates that for the first time, current students are on par with parents as influencers of prospective students’ enrollment decisions. Inviting members of your community—from students and faculty to alumni—to participate by spreading simple ideas in their own words can foster community-wide engagement and generate authentic content for both recruitment and fundraising purposes.”

PORTFOLIOS AS EVIDENCE FOR YOUR PROGRAMS

Larry Burns, Vice President of External Affairs at the University of Toledo, consistently looks for innovative ways to showcase the power of a UT degree. In this brief video, he shares how implementing Seelio in two colleges at the university enabled students to serve as brand ambassadors, documenting evidence of the skills they were building and how their UT degree sets them apart. Hear more of his perspective in this short video:

 

Want to learn more? Hear Mr. Burns speak about the value of a true partnership in edtech or hear from other Seelio partners about how they’re creating more prepared students with student lifecycle portfolios.

See how we go beyond ePortfoliosExplore student work on Seelio

Partner Spotlight: A Dean Shares How Seelio Portfolios Help His Program Show Its Value to Students

SHOWCASING STUDENT TALENT WITH PORTFOLIOS

One of our favorite things about working in higher education is getting to see the diverse array of talents that students bring to their college communities. While a student’s musical talents or previous community organizing experience might be shared with a few close friends, online portfolios allow for students across degree programs, and even across campuses, to showcase the many things they have accomplished both inside and outside the classroom. As more and more students aren’t coming to college directly from high school, the need to capture and relate past life experiences to current learning has only increased.

PORTFOLIOS AS A WAY TO PROVE VALUE

Our partners recognize the value that portfolios bring to their college communities. In a recent interview, Scott TitsworthDean of the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University, shared challenges the college faces, many of which are common across institutions of higher education, such as:

  • Competing for a smaller slice of students
  • Presenting a compelling narrative to students about the value-added experience that they will have in a degree program
  • Showing students exactly what it looks like to move closer to their career goals through a specific degree program

Dean Titsworth also shared how using Seelio as a digital identity solution helps the Scripps College of Communication face these challenges head on. See his response in this short video:

 

Want to learn more? Hear Dean Titsworth speak about the value of portfolios in assessing students or hear from other Seelio partners about how they’re creating more prepared students with student lifecycle portfolios.

See how we go beyond ePortfoliosExplore student work on Seelio