Iowa GROW logo

Employment during college helps contribute to student success when meaningful connections between learning in the classroom and learning on the job are made evident.

Iowa GROW® (Guided Reflection on Work) uses brief, structured conversations between student employees and their supervisors to help students connect the skills and knowledge they are gaining in the classroom with the work they are doing, and vice versa. 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.

Four quick questions

Iowa GROW® conversations are guided by four quick questions:

  1. How is this job fitting in with your academics?
  2. What are you learning here that’s helping you in school?
  3. What are you learning in class that you can apply here at work?
  4. Can you give me a couple of examples of things you’ve learned here that you think you’ll use in your chosen profession?

Why GROW®?

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.

Illustrated tree leaves containing the text "Learning, Connecting, Reflecting"

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.

Iowa GROW® explained


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 (formerly with Iowa Memorial Union), Rachelle Stewart (formerly with University Housing & Dining), and Tara Black (formerly with Student Health & Wellness); and Cindy Seyfer (formerly with the Office of Student Financial Aid) and Belinda Marner (formerly with the Division of Student Life) who provided helpful project guidance. Special thanks to Dr. George Kuh for his support and consultation on Iowa GROW®.

Adopting/Adapting Iowa GROW® on your campus?

Please contact Teri Schnelle ( about the use of the registered trademark Iowa GROW®. I can provide guidelines on trademark use and on naming your program.