At a time when job hunting or getting into graduate school is more competitive than ever for freshly minted college grads, the University of Arizona is enhancing student learning by providing formally documented, experiential education through its newly launched 100% Engagement initiative.
The 100% Engagement initiative is an important component of the UA's Never Settlestrategic academic and business plan that promises all undergraduate students an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in their chosen field before they graduate. These opportunities, which are a central component of students' education at the UA, include internships, externships, research projects, creative activities, service learning and community volunteerism, and other hands-on learning activities.
The UA's 100% Engagement policy is unique in that students will have their experiences formally documented on their transcripts. Starting in the fall, students will be able to graduate with an "Engaged Learning Experience" notation on their official transcripts.
The initiative is designed to enhance the quality of students' education, improve student retention and graduation rates, and generate skilled, qualified graduates who are sought by the best employers and postgraduate programs.
"The UA is committed to engaging students by developing programs that integrate experiential learning into their everyday education," said Vincent Del Casino, vice provost of digital learning and student engagement and associate vice president for student affairs and enrollment management.
"Our students are already some of the most sought-after students in the country. The UA's 100% Engagement initiative builds on the great tradition of experiential learning at the University by expanding student access to applied learning in and beyond the classroom."
The UA's newly created Office of Student Engagement recently launched a website to explain how the policy works and provide resources for students, faculty and staff. The website can be found at ose.arizona.edu.
Each Engaged Learning Experience is tied to one Engagement Activity and one Engagement Competency. Activities will be part of formally approved for-credit curriculum or noncredit experiences. Competencies are designed to describe the focus areas of expertise gained by a student's participation in the activity.
Engagement Activities include: Community Partnership, Creative Expression, Discovery, Entrepreneurship, Intercultural Exploration, Leadership, and Professional Development.
Engagement Competencies include: Civic and Community Responsibility; Diversity and Identity; Global and Intercultural Comprehension; Innovation and Creativity; Interdisciplinarity; Professionalism; and Sustainability.
To further enhance the 100% Engagement initiative, the UA established its Institute for Career Readiness and Engagement last year to connect students with employers. The institute is funded through the Office of the Governor's Workforce Development grant program. It provides students with early career coaching programs and help in identifying internships and job opportunities.
In addition, the Office of Student Engagement has invested in 14 new engagement staff positions in the academic colleges to support the growth of the initiative.
Article by Amanda Ballard, University Relations - Communications | Originally published July 2, 2015