Students do not always understand how the work that they do in our classes helps prepare them for their future careers. In this episode, Chilton Reynolds and Ed Beck join us to discuss one institution’s approach to helping students understand and articulate how their course learning activities intersect with career competencies. Chilton is the Director of the Faculty Center for Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship at SUNY Oneonta. Ed is an Open and Online Learning Specialist, also at SUNY Oneonta. Chilton and Ed have both worked on integrating career readiness skills into the curriculum.
- The Faculty Center for Teaching, Learning & Scholarship at SUNY-Oneonta
- Regaining Momentum – initiative at SUNY-Oneonta
- Career Development Center at SUNY Oneonta
- AAC&U high impact practice
- POD Network
- SUNY Career Readiness Champion Certificate Program
- Jessica Kruger, (2022). Embedding Career Competencies. Tea for Teaching podcast. Episode 246. June 29
- NACE Competencies
- Jessie Stack Lombardo
- Sarah Portway
- SUNY Oneonta Connecting Career Competencies Rubric
John: Students do not always understand how the work that they do in our classes helps prepare them for their future careers. In this episode, we discuss one institution’s approach to helping students understand and articulate how their course learning activities intersect with career competencies.
John: Thanks for joining us for Tea for Teaching, an informal discussion of innovative and effective practices in teaching and learning.
Rebecca: This podcast series is hosted by John Kane, an economist…
John: …and Rebecca Mushtare, a graphic designer…
Rebecca: …and features guests doing important research and advocacy work to make higher education more inclusive and supportive of all learners.
John: Our guests today are Chilton Reynolds and Ed Beck. Chilton is the Director of the Faculty Center for Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship at SUNY Oneonta. Ed is an Open and Online Learning Specialist, also at SUNY Oneonta. Chilton and Ed have both worked on integrating career readiness skills into the curriculum. Welcome Chilton and Ed.
Chilton: Hey, It’s nice to be here.
Ed: Thanks, John.
Rebecca: Today’s teas are… Chilton, are you drinking any tea today?
Chilton: I am. It’s afternoon here, so I’ve moved to iced tea. I make my own decaffeinated, slightly sweetened, peach iced tea for the afternoon.
Rebecca: Sounds nice and refreshing.
Rebecca: What about you, Ed?
Ed: I am drinking a Chamomile honey and vanilla tea, in a very fancy special mug.
Rebecca: Oh, that’s a Tea for Teaching mug. I wonder where you got it.
John: And I am drinking an Irish Breakfast tea today.
Rebecca: Also in a tea for teaching mug. I have Lady Grey, I think.
John: We’ve invited you here today to discuss your work at SUNY Oneonta in making explicit connections between course learning objectives and career readiness skills. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Chilton: Yes, we’d love to. And again, thanks for having us. We’re excited to be here to share this project that we’ve been doing. We just finished up with our first cohort where we are really trying to help our students make really clear connections between what’s going on in the classroom with career competency skills that they’ll be using after they leave college. So the focus of this program was really on helping faculty build into their courses, times to allow students to reflect on what they’re doing in the classroom, and really say explicitly: “Here’s the skill that we are trying to build towards. Here’s what we’re doing in class. Now, as a student, practice actually making that connection. We want you to either write that and think about it in writing or say it out loud, and practice saying out loud, so that those connections can become as strong as possible after you leave this class.” The focus of this was on lower-level classes, we specifically targeted lower-level classes, because we thought that by the time they’re getting to their senior seminars, they’re doing that in the class already. But we don’t have these conversations in our 1000- and 2000-level classes. And so the more we can do this in our lower-level classes, hopefully when they get to those upper-level classes, they can say, “Oh, yes, I do remember talking about technology skills or communication skills early on and I can make connections now between what happened in that class and what’s going on.”
Ed: Yeah, the big thing that we always are talking about in the instructional design field, in the faculty development field, we’re talking about authentic learning all the time. But I joke sometimes when I say like if a student completes a course built on authentic learning, but can’t talk about it in an interview, or articulate it to themselves or others, did it really happen? And this is our practice. This is us saying, “if we’re going to do all the effort to make sure that our courses are built on authentic learning, we’re building authentic tasks into them. Let’s go ahead and do the next step of reflection, of practicing, so that students are prepared to speak about it.”
Rebecca: Can you talk a little bit more about how you rolled it out to faculty, because you’re talking about working on it through the center, and then getting faculty to adopt it in these lower level classes? Can you talk a little bit about those details?
Chilton: Yes. So we had started with a call for faculty. We actually had gotten a grant, there was local money from our institution to be able to do this where our incoming president had created… we didn’t have a strategic plan at the time, so he created a initiative called “regaining momentum” that was very much focused on re-engaging our students, both incoming students and current students. And so one of the focuses was on career readiness. And so that was kind of “how do we help our students make those connections?” So we had applied for a grant, we received the grant, and in doing that had promised that we would do this over three years, the first year being our first cohort. So we actually put out a call for proposals and went to a couple of faculty that we knew were doing some of this from some of our previous work, and said, “Would you be willing to be a part of this?” and then also have the full call for everybody across campus, and we were looking for 10 faculty, and I think we had 11 proposals to begin with. After that we went through the team that was built from across campus. We can talk about that in just a second too. But they had a team that would review those proposals and then said, “Yes, we had a cohort of 10,” which is what we had funding for the first year of the cohort, and then went through the process with them over the year.
Ed: In our center, we’ve really been thinking about how we can focus on the student experience. We’re in a transition phase right now, we used to be known as the Teaching, Learning, and Technology Center, and we are transitioning, and as of July 1st, we’re now the Faculty Center on campus. We were thinking about how we stop leading with technology. We always were thinking about teaching but we wanted to lead with that. And one of the things that we were doing was we were focusing in on the AAC&U high-impact practices. And we went through that long list of high-impact practices and said “okay, what fits into the work that we are already doing as a center?” and kind of identified some of them, so we had already been doing sessions and cohorts of project-based learning with our faculty members, we had already been investigating and helping build ePortfolios. And we always saw ourselves as the collaborative learning people. So what we wanted to do was create a cohort of people that were thinking about this and tie it to a goal that we could keep coming back to, and have these faculty meet with each other throughout a semester to really create a community around a central idea. And that’s where the idea really came from was to keep reconnecting through the semester and focus on building that community versus the sometimes one-off presentations that faculty development can sometimes feel like.
Rebecca: Can you talk a little bit about the career readiness competencies that you’re focusing on?
Chilton: Yeah, when we started this application process, we were connecting with other groups across campus. And one of those that when we talk about career development should be the Career Development Center. So we reached out to them and they talked about how they were using the NACE career readiness competencies. NACE is a national organization that is connecting what’s going on in the classroom to careers afterwards. There are eight competencies that are a part of those and they align a lot of their work specifically with that. Additionally, we found out that some of our co-curricular activities also aligned with the NACE competencies. We have a Lead program, which is a leadership program on our campus, and that uses the NACE competencies as well. The School of Liberal Arts has a program going on right now where they were trying to do a lot of this similar work outside of the classroom with students helping them connect what they had been doing in their classes with what was going on through the NACE competencies. So we found there was a lot of work already happening on campus, and so we really wanted to make sure that we aligned with that as well. What we like about NACE competencies is it really aligns with a lot of the work that goes on in our classrooms. And that’s what resonated with us, and that said, we’re focused on what’s going on in the classroom, how we can help support faculty in doing more useful work inside the classroom. And so we thought about how the NACE competencies really do that. So we think about things like professionalism, communication, critical thinking, teamwork, technology, and leadership. Then there’s equity, inclusion, and career and self development. Those are the soft skills is that word that got used a lot in the past to kind of say, “Yes, we do these things, but we didn’t really help students make those connections between what’s going on.” So we felt like it was a great framework to take into the classroom and say, you’re doing this as faculty, you know, you were doing this, but the students don’t always know that they’re doing this, how can we be able to help do that? The other thing I’ll follow up with that is, as we were exploring this more, we reached out to the POD Network, and actually found out [LAUGHTER] from SUNY, there was already work going on some of this as well. So our Center for Professional Development, has a whole certificate program that’s around connecting career readiness skills into the classroom and our use of the NACE competencies as a part of that as well. So it was really a lot of tie-ins that we saw really strong connections between what was happening on our campus and things that were happening locally.
John: We have talked about that, to some extent in our previous podcast with Jessica Krueger, and we’ll include a link to that, in the show notes.
Chilton: And one thing I follow up with that, John, is we have a couple of pre-professional programs. And this seems to fit really well there, like career readiness makes sense when you have a pre-professional program that’s preparing you for a specific program. We were also trying to reach into our liberal arts programs, into our science programs, into lots of other programs that might not be as focused on a specific profession, but still are connecting into these career readiness competencies.
John: And since we’re doing these things in the classes anyway, it’s nice for students to be able to recognize that these are skills that are going to be helpful for them in their future careers. And when they can see that, I think that may help provide a little more intrinsic motivation to engage in these practices and develop those skills. How have students responded to that?
Chilton: So we are in the first year of this, and this is one of the things we were reflecting on as we were preparing for this in that we realized our first year was focused on what faculty are going to be doing. As Ed said, we’ve been working with some faculty on this, that have been doing this on a smaller scale. But as far as this program, we’re looking forward in year two to really hearing from students and hearing how that’s going to go, so we’ll have to provide some feedback and liner notes later on to let you know when we hear about from the students.
Ed: Yeah, I’m gonna lead a committee to do the IRB and create some surveys to send out to students that are part of the program and have a little bit more of that student voice that we can report back on. Because I think that’s really important. It grew out of a proposal like that, that I’ll talk about a little bit later. But we had done that student interviews and student feedback once before, that really helped create this framework that we were really trying to set up with now a cohort of faculty members.
Rebecca: I really love hearing that you’re using NACE across your institution in different spaces. So you mentioned that Career Development Center is doing it as well as your center. Can you talk a little bit about how that collaboration is working?
Chilton: Yeah, so we really see this as a partnership. And it’s one of the things that we really tried to be intentional early on. Because when you say career readiness, that is a Career Development Center thing, and we don’t want there to be any perception that we’re trying to take over what they’re doing and we want to be able to just support them so that when students come to them, they are more prepared. A part of the original proposal was going to the Career Development Center and saying, we want to do this with you, would you be willing to partner with us? We can do more of this in the classroom. It was very much a partnership, it was very much us wanting to say, “What is it that you do in the Career Development Center, and then also, where can we help support you?” And then make sure that we feed into what you’re already doing. So it’s not any appearance of us coming in and trying to take over your programming, but just help our students be more prepared when they come to your program.
Ed: Actually, we had a great day at a winter workshop where the Career Development Center sat with our faculty and said, “Here are some of the things that we are already doing, here are the services that we’re purchasing, here are the things that we do at one-on-one consultations, here was what it could look like if you invited us into your course.” And some of our faculty members did that and invited the Career Development Center into their course to speak to them. And some of our faculty members were doing other things that incorporated the competencies but didn’t necessarily incorporate an outside group like the Career Development Center. So we had a wide range, even among our cohort of what they were doing. During that winter workshop that I was referencing, we actually brought in an outside trainer. And that was really nice. Chilton mentioned that the SUNY Center for Professional Development, the CPD had already been doing a four course sequence on the NACE competencies, which was really meant for a variety of professionals, it wasn’t just faculty, but the instructor that came highly recommended to us was Jessie Stack Lombardo also from SUNY for the SUNY Geneseo Career Development Center Director. And she came in and did some workshops with us and the faculty thinking about what are the small things that we can do in our class that helped students reflect, that helps students make those connections?
John: Could you tell us a little bit about the impetus for starting this program?
Ed: Yeah, so even before the program, we were, of course, working with wonderful faculty members here at SUNY Oneonta. And one of the things that we’d been doing quite a bit was thinking about making websites and ePortfolios, having opportunities for students to build their own web space, build their own web presence. So even before the cohort happened, we had one great instructor that said, “Hey, I would really love to be thinking about building ePortfolio projects into my course, would you help me do that?” During this time, John, you know, we were doing the SUNYCreate, a domain of one’s own initiative. We were giving websites to students. That was a technology-focused initiative. But we were doing a lot of these things already. I said, “Yeah, let’s come in. Let’s do that.” I was invited into that class several times. And we were so proud of this course, the way it came out. I want to give such a big shout out to Dr. Sarah Portway. She later went out and won the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching based on a lot of the work that she was doing. They were building a fashion magazine online, the students were taking the articles they submitted for that fashion magazine, and also bringing them back to their portfolio and showcasing them on their own sites in addition, and she said, “Hey, why don’t we take this thing on the road? Why don’t we go to the AAC&U’s Institute on OER and ePortfolios.” And we said, “Okay, let’s do an IRB, get some student feedback from that, to bring to the conference so that we have that student voice when we go through.” And the feedback was fantastic. Students really responded to it. It was a wonderful presentation. But we were also starting to realize during those interviews, it wasn’t a negative, but it wasn’t all positive. Students were still not making all the connections between the skills that they had done and things they had practiced and the skills they had acquired, and being able to articulate that. I have this memory of a student saying to me, “I wish I could have put this on my portfolio, but it was a group assignment, so I can’t put a group assignment on my personal portfolio.” And I remember just kind of stopping the interview format and saying to her, “Oh, I would absolutely put that group assignment on your portfolio if you’re proud of it. I would absolutely describe what it is you did to contribute to that. group atmosphere and talk about how you can be a successful collaborator and describe how you work in team environments. And then put that thing that you’re proud of, that artifact that you’re proud of, on your portfolio, but also with the framing of what it means for you to be a good teammate and what it means for you to be a good collaborator.” And the student said “Oh, I never thought about it like that, I guess I could do something like that.” And Dr. Portway, being a fantastic instructor, never being satisfied with how things went in the last class was kind of like, “We need to think about this a little bit more. We need to be more explicit. We’re already doing all these authentic assignments. And at some level, it’s hitting. And we definitely want to keep going down this road. But on some level, we are missing something in helping those students make those connections. What do we need to do in the classroom activities, in the way that the assignments are presented, that helps walk them through that to make them just a little bit more prepared, because the authentic skills were already in the course. They just needed help making that connection.” And that was really the thing for me that I walked back from that experience and knocked on Chilton’s door and said, “We need to be doing more of this, and we need to be doing it not one at a time, but with groups of faculty members.” And that was really important to me.
Chilton: And what was interesting to me was that to carry that on a little bit more, when we first had this proposal ePortfolios was in the proposal title. We were really focused on we want to do ePortfolios for everyone. And some of the feedback we received was “Yes, ePortfolios can be a part of that but this could be a much wider conversation,” which is again, how we got back to NACE. There are these bigger frameworks that we can be a part of. So we went from, “Yes, here’s this great tool to no, no, no, let’s look at it from a framework perspective.” And now we’re at the point where we’re like, yes, some of the projects will be ePortfolios, some of them will be other things. And that’s okay. And that was bigger than the tool. This is about helping our students think about what they’re doing and helping them connect to things that will be useful for them after they leave college.
John: One quick follow up, you mentioned that you have groups of faculty who worked on it. As I understand this, this was a faculty learning community that you put together, where faculty received some slight funding or a small stipend as part of the participation. Have you done any work there with entire departments in revising their curriculum yet?
Ed: No, we haven’t done the departmental level work yet. Right now we’re focusing on coalitions of the willing, having faculty who are interested in these types of things. One of the hopes is that after doing three cohorts, having worked with multiple faculty one year, then the second year, then a third year, new faculty each year that we can get to a point where we’re ready to have a bigger discussion. There was one participant in the group that was really focused on making a freshman ePortfolio with the explicit reason to keep contributing to it throughout the program. And I think that shows a lot of promise. But we’ve still got to do some work to get the buy-in from the rest of the department to make sure that it gets used. So I mean, there is a lot to be done there. And it’s one of the things I’m hopeful for the future.
Chilton: To add on to that, one of our goals out of this is to be able to build a repository where we can share and our hope is that we can have enough examples that when we go to a department, we can say, here’s some small changes you can make. Ed had mentioned this earlier, we want to be able to have a breadth of here’s some small tweaks you can make. Or here’s some larger things you can do. And be able to have some examples that are multidisciplinary, that are a wide range of both implementation needs, as well as examples from different departments so that when they go to a department, we can say this doesn’t have to be a large change, it could just be helping make some small changes to help those students make connections.
Rebecca: So I wanted to follow up on an earlier point that you were making, from an experience that I’ve had as an instructor, and I’m sure many other instructors have had is you work really hard to make these kinds of career-ready activities, things like professional email writing, and portfolio projects, and team projects, the list goes on. We do many of these things as instructors, and then you inevitably have this conversation, a one-on-one maybe with a student. And you just realize they have no idea why they were doing any of the things and you’re like, “Oh, I failed the student clearly [LAUGHTER]. I could have done a better job.” And so it seems like frameworks like NACE could be really helpful, both for instructors and students to just be more explicit about those things and to practice talking about them. Can you talk a little bit about that piece of the puzzle?
Ed: Yeah, I think it’s so important to have small opportunities to embed a skill or embed a practice in there. So I’m going to start off with a very small thing that I think anybody could throw into their class. At the end of the course, it’s at reflection time, we want to talk about what you learned. Let’s take a moment and think about a common interview technique is the star interview technique, you’ve probably heard of it, where you describe a situation, then you have the task that you were assigned, the action that you took, and then a result, explain that, say “Hey this is how a lot of times we make sure that we have an action-oriented response to an interview question.” Now talk about this course, using the STAR method. What situations did your instructor put you in? What were you asked to do? What did you do in order to be successful in there? And then is there anything else you want to share about it? Are there next steps that you should continue to do that your instructors put you on the path to? Or are there things that you’ve realized about yourself that you need to continue on with for the future for the next thing? That’s so simple, it’s not rewriting an entire course. Yet, it’s a little opportunity to say, this is important, and what we did had meaning, and take a moment to integrate that into your context. How will you talk about this course in the future.
Chilton: What was interesting to me when we were doing this was when we first started out, we list a whole bunch of sample outcomes that get at what you were talking about, I’m going to do this email, I’m going to have them do this thing and it’s going to be great. And as we got to the conversation with our faculty, we realized that what we were missing was really creating the places for the students to practice making the connection. We have to practice the skills all the time, we’re like, “Yes, we do this.” As the faculty member, we understand that there is a connection between this and career readiness but unless the students are actually practicing making the connection, not just doing the action, but making the connection, then it doesn’t always stick for them. And so that’s where we started to shift from, what do we want the faculty to do? How do we want the students to practice this so that it does stick for them? So it is meaningful for them in a way that they can think about it again, hopefully, a year, two years from now, when they’re finishing their college career and starting to think more about career readiness. That was a shift for us of what is the faculty member going to do to how do we help the students really intentionally practice what they are doing, practice talking about what they have done, and making that connection to, in this case, the NACE framework, because we thought it was such a good framework to talk about.
Ed: I feel like we’re saying NACE too often. So I feel like it’s always helpful to be a little more specific. So let’s talk about communication. We’re teaching communication to students all the time. One of the key aspects is audience. So have the conversation with your students. When we communicate to different audiences, we use different standards. So part of the reason why I’m asking you to write a more formal paper, in research style format, is I want you to be prepared to speak to other experts in your field. But when we shift to the oral presentation, I want you to adjust your language, so that you’re speaking to a non-expert, you’re speaking to your future colleagues, you’re speaking to a potential customer. And when you make that switch, make sure it’s intentional. And then at the end of this course, I’m going to ask you to reflect on that to think about what choices you made when you were speaking to someone who you expect to already understand and be embedded into the discipline and someone who you do not expect. How is it different when you talk to a colleague versus when you talk to your friends and family about what you do. That’s an important communication competency. So let’s talk about it and intentional choices that we can be making.
John: How many faculty members and how many departments were involved in this project so far?
Chilton: So we had our first cohort, and in that cohort, we specifically targeted to having 10 faculty. But we were very specific about trying to have faculty from as many departments and as many schools as possible. So we have three schools on our campus, we ensured that we had representation from all three schools, we ensured that we have representation from multiple departments. So in the end, we had nine different departments as a part of this. We did have overlap in one department, from two of our participants. As we said before, we did focus and said in the call that we wanted you to work with a 1000- or 2000-level class. And so that was part of the call as well. So we actually had a couple people that applied for this that were planning on doing this in a 3000-level class. We reached out to all of them and said “Do you have any lower-level classes that could be part of this?” Two of them said yes and one didn’t, which was one person that we weren’t able to take in. We’re focusing on in years two and three, again, lower-level courses, and going to try to continue to have faculty from as many different departments as possible, so that when we get to the end of this, again, we have a nice repository of examples from as many different disciplines and as many different schools as possible.
Ed: And we can invite some of the cohort I faculty back as mentors, and we can incorporate them into year two in a different way, as we continue to try to build a larger community and push a conversation that we think needs to happen on campus.
Rebecca: Can you talk a little bit about what was expected of a faculty member who was accepted into the program?
Chilton: So we’ve spelled that out upfront, we had already been planning on our campus, what we call the SUNY digital learning conference that was focused on open and public education. And we purposely built in a track in there that was about career readiness. Originally, as we’ve been talking about, we were focused on ePortfolios, and so I thought a lot of them will be doing ePortfolios. But in the expansion of that, we wanted to make sure that we really talked about how we can make connections. So we said that we would pay for the faculty to be a part of that conference. So they attended that conference in November of 2022. And that was the first part, kind of the kickoff for this cohort. We then had a January full day workshop, as Ed had talked about earlier, brought in Jessie Stack Lombardo from SUNY Geneseo to be our speaker for that, and she wasn’t even a speaker she really planned the day and it was very highly interactive with those ten faculty. So as Ed said, we have a staff member from the Career Development Center was a part of that and presented locally, Jesse then talked about some different frameworks to be able to do including NACE and how you can start to think about both small changes that we made and large changes. And then we had said in the call that the expectation would be that by the end of the Spring 23 semester, they would turn in a revised syllabus and examples of work that they are doing to the group. We realized that wasn’t specific enough. So we then created a rubric that focused in on three specific areas of what they would need to do. First part of that rubric is what would be the changes they would make in their syllabus to really spell out what are the NACE competencies? Are you focusing on all of them? Are you focusing on one of them? But didn’t have to be a lot in there, but we did want to have it be addressed in their syllabus in some way. And then what is the activity they’re going to be doing where they actually have students practicing and how will the students receive feedback on that? Well, there’s three levels, it’s not present as a part of the rubric. And then we had two levels of “yes, it meets expectations.” And we were thinking again, what are those small changes that could happen, but then also, we had a what’s above expectation, where what’s something if you were really dreaming about what it could be, where could you take it and what could it be, so we kind of want to have “Yes, you meet expectations” that would help us get small changes that would be usable by everybody. And then what could this be look like if you really wanted to really [LAUGHTER] dive into the deep end with it and explore what could happen with it a little bit more, and make it so that it was better for students, not just in the class, but beyond the classroom.
Ed: Yeah, the only thing I’ll add to that Chilton is we also met once a month during the spring semester. So we had recurring meetings throughout the Spring semester. With those rubrics between the present and highly effective, and we’ll share the rubric so that you can put it in the notes if you’d like. We were starting to think about not only did you incorporate the NACE competency in your course, but you were also presented your prompts or your things in a way that gave the students the opportunity to think about future activities they could take, future things they would want to do. And that was really important to us as we were doing it is to not only just create a moment of reflection for the students at that moment, but also to make that connection of, okay now that I’ve had that moment of reflection, now what? Should I be picking out some different courses? Should I be finding an internship? Should I be doing something now to set myself up for success? And so we don’t get that panicked feeling when the student is at senior year and they go into the career readiness and or the Career Development Center and say, “Okay, what do I do now?”
John: What type of incentives were offered to faculty to participate in the program?
Chilton: So we spell that out as pay for their participation in the conference in November. So they were able to go for free and participate. It was on our campus that made it easy for them to be able to go. It was just their conference registration that we covered as a part of this. In addition, we paid them a stipend for attending the January workshop. So officially it was $90 was the stipend to attend the workshop. And then when they completed and turned in their final version of their revised syllabus and examples of activities, there was another $510 stipend. So in total, it was a $600 stipend. But as a part of that final revision, we actually did review their submissions, looked at the rubric and did give them feedback… a couple of people, we said, “Hey you’re missing…” and asked them to go back and do some additional work. So we did hold them accountable to that rubric before getting the final stipend. And so it was a useful and interesting conversation when the leadership team did meet to kind of look at those to be able to say, “What do we like about this? What are we thinking for cohorts two, and three? What might be asked for more specifically next time to make this even more meaningful for our students?” So we’re already starting to think about cohort two and looking forward to that for next year.
Rebecca: Can you talk a little bit about how faculty responded to their participation,
Ed: We take the faculty’s response and the feedback they gave us really seriously. We gave them the opportunity. They had the reflections that they were doing that, of course, we knew who was speaking. But we also gave them some opportunities to give us some anonymous feedback, so that they could tell us how they really felt about us. And we were just really pleased with it in year one. We do recognize that we have to keep honing our message, we have to keep defining what we mean by career readiness, and what we mean by incorporating it into class. We need to have our elevator pitch a little bit more refined and down. Because what’s evolved through this conversation is, we’ve really talked about the skills are already there, but we can be more intentional about it. And we can be intentional in the ways we ask students to reflect and practice in ways that we really believe can be beneficial for students. But that can still be a difficult conversation. When people see career readiness in 1000 and 2000 level classes, some people are bristled or turned off by that because they’re thinking, “Oh, just one more thing that I have to do.” Now we didn’t get that from our participants in the cohort that much, because they applied and they came here on purpose, that was nice to have a group that was really wanting to be here and was willing to try some things with us in this space that we were creating. But overall, I would say that the feedback had been very positive.
Chilton: Looking through the feedback from faculty, I just pulled out there was one quote that stuck out to me that i’ll read quickly that came from one of our professors in our communication arts department, where this professor said, “Students said that they felt more confident.” So this is actually one of the professors we recruited into this program that had been doing this already. This professor did have some experience with students doing something but said that “Students felt more confident in the skills as a professional, and were able to articulate how the experiences they had in my class connected to the expectations and employers would have of them. They also appreciated being told of why we had to do certain projects and to help them transition from college to life after college.” And so I think that really speaks to how the professors enjoyed having time to be able to do that.
John: We only have courses from 100 to 500 levels. It seems there has been a bit of a course number inflation there at [LAUGHTER] Oneonta. That was just a joke. I’m sorry.
Chilton: We were told that everybody in SUNY was moving to four course digit numbers and so we over the past two years, it was like this really big project that we did to move from three digit to four digit numbers, because at least we heard, everybody in SUNY is doing this. So we have to do it. It’s very intriguing that not everybody had to do that. [LAUGHTER].
Ed: And simultaneously, as we were going from three digits to four digits, we didn’t have 400 level classes previously. And the feedback we were getting was that that was seen as a deficiency by some people who are reviewing our students’ transcripts, even though calling all of our upper division 300 level, and that people applying to professional schools would get that explanation they would understand why there weren’t 400 level. Other people who are maybe not as skilled at reading a transcript are like, “Well, did this student avoid all 400 level work?” And so simultaneously as we were adding another digit, we were also transitioning to having 1000, 2000, 3000, and 4000 level classes. So that was a big change that took a lot of curriculum writing and mapping through over the last two years. It wasn’t just as easy as adding a zero on to every course.
Rebecca: Sounds like such a fun project. Sign me up. [LAUGHTER] So we always wrap up by asking what’s next?
Chilton: So we are excited about Cohort Two. We are going to be starting our recruitment in the fall. We actually have a fall faculty Institute on campus. This year is very much focused on what the communities of practice that are already happening on campus and how you can get involved. And so that’s going to be our first, not our first, but that’s gonna be one of our big recruitment pitches for Cohort Two. In Cohort Two, we are looking to be able to include more faculty from a wider range, we are going to be starting to get into faculty that might not have as much experience in doing this. So we are thinking about how we hone our pitch and how we focus this to a wider audience to be able to say “No, this is not big changes in your classes. This is just asking one additional question or allowing space for one additional time for students to be able to practice connecting what you’re already doing to these career readiness competencies.”
Ed: And I would say what’s next for me is this experience has really solidified the idea for me that we need to continue in faculty development centers, to make spaces where faculty can repeatedly come back and interact on the same topic, getting away from that kind of one and done workshop, and identifying major things that we want to return to through the year inviting people into that space to share. Because when those faculty, when they get an opportunity to think and show off what they’re doing, it really is a wonderful spread of ideas. And you get a lot from all the energy in the room.
Rebecca: Well, thank you so much for joining us and sharing how this project’s unfolded at your institution.
John: And you’re both doing some really great work at SUNY Oneonta and it’s great to keep in touch and thank you for joining us.
Chilton: And thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here with you. So thanks for taking the time to be with us today.
John: If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes or your favorite podcast service. To continue the conversation, join us on our Tea for Teaching Facebook page.
Rebecca: You can find show notes, transcripts and other materials on teaforteaching.com. Music by Michael Gary Brewer.
Ganesh: Editing assistance by Ganesh.