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What I learned about teaching and learning from Career Services

In August, I met with Lauren Ryan and Cassidy Wagner from Career Services to discuss learning outcomes in the context of career readiness. In this post, I describe some outcomes in common with classroom learning goals and share insights about how faculty can cultivate key professional outcomes.

Outcomes in Common

Two of the areas they noted as important for career readiness felt very familiar to concerns I have heard from many faculty: (1) The ability to manage interpersonal relationships, and (2) the capacity for self-advocacy. We discussed this in relation to the process of critique, and the desire for students to be able to engage in this process more as constructive dialogue, and not as judgment that is painful or personally devaluating. While some students are able to engage in critique as a learning process, others may struggle with the process. These struggles may be related to developmental changes in how individuals relate to authority figures; it may also have to do with  personal experiences of trauma or mistrust which could stem from identities marginalized in society or adverse childhood experiences.

One way we at CIA can help students to engage productively in critiques and professional opportunities is by nurturing their capacity for self-advocacy and self-authorship. Self-advocacy is the ability to speak up for oneself, ask for support, and make deliberate choices and decisions. Self-authorship is the ability to know oneself, reflect on one’s knowledge, beliefs and values, and constructively weigh various perspectives. We can help foster self-advocacy by sharing resources like those offered through CIA’s Academic Support department and reminding students that seeking help is an important skill for everyone to practice. The authors of the Learning Partnerships Model offer three core principles for supporting self-authorship:

  1. Validate learners as knowers. This includes letting them see you as human, approachable, and invested in their success and encouraging the active sharing of ideas.
  2. Situate learning in the learner’s own experience. This includes explaining the relevance of ideas and skills to students’ daily lives and current reality, and providing opportunities for students to reflect on what they know and believe, how they came to that knowledge and beliefs, and how they want to act on those ideas and values.
  3. Define learning and mutually constructing meaning. This includes defining learning as a collaborative process and allowing students to see your thinking, reasoning, learning, and creative processes.

I was also struck by two statements during the conversation:

  1. The way that faculty communicate and relate to students carries over to how students relate to and communicate with employers and other professionals. Faculty can help students develop skills of professional communication by talking to them about how to communicate proactively about missing class or struggling with work and how to communicate with clarity and respect for one another.
  2. All of our students benefit from mentorship, but many feel unsure about how to cultivate this relationship. Faculty can help by creating opportunities for interactions and making sure students see them as approachable and valuable resources for support. Connections and community are key to professional success, and the ability to network and interact with faculty help students feel valued and capable.

Remember that Career Services is dedicated to supporting our students with their professional success. You might mention their many services in your class or request a presentation on one of many topics, including networking strategies, career exploration, and portfolio review.

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