Student employees gain valuable skills that prepare them for the world after college. At the same time, employment during college can actually contribute to student success while they're here. By helping students make meaningful connections between what they're learning in the classroom and what they're learning on the job, we can contribute to their overall academic and social success.
IOWA GROW™ uses brief, structured conversations between student employees and their supervisors to help make the learning that is occurring through student employment more “visible” to the student. These conversations focus on four key questions about what students are learning and how they are applying their learning. Our primary goal is to help students connect the skills and knowledge they are gaining in the classroom with the work they are doing, and vice versa - creating a seamless learning environment. IOWA GROW™ is focused on making student employment a "high-impact activity" - one that requires students to reflect on their learning and connect their learning within and beyond the classroom.
IOWA GROW™ uses four quick questions to help student employees connect work, academics, and their lives beyond college:
Research on student employment shows that students know they are learning many “real world” work skills, such as time management, conflict resolution, and balancing priorities. What they may not connect on their own, however, is their classroom learning and their jobs. While some connections are really natural (e.g., a graphic design major working on a marketing team), others require a bit more thought and deliberate attention. Supervisors are very important assets in helping students make these connections between “work and school.”
Supervisors regularly check in with student employees on work flow, tasks, and assignments. Taking an extra minute or two to periodically check in on how students are doing in classes, and even asking them to relate what they’re learning on the job to course work or vice versa can be all it takes to help get some connections firing.
It is our hope that with the tools and information provided here, you can initiate a similar intervention program with your student employees. We have provided the details of IOWA GROW™ and some resources to help you design and implement the intervention in your setting.
Acknowledgements: Thank you to all the supervisors and students who participated in IOWA GROW™ during our pilot process; the core IOWA GROW™ development team including: Penny Kaelber (Iowa Memorial Union), Rachelle Stewart (University Housing and Dining), and Tara Black (formerly with Student Health Service); and Cindy Seyfer and Belinda Marner who provided helpful project guidance. Special thanks to Dr. George Kuh for his support and consultation on IOWA GROW™.