There should be no mystery in what students are learning.
And yet, few students can make the connection between the general education courses they take and their future academic and professional goals.
During a webinar on what TEL is doing to help schools support students for long-term success, Executive Director Rob Reynolds and Chief Information Officer Stacy Zemke highlighted what students need to be successful in college and after graduation.
“The key that we’re going after is to make them co-participants in the process. If we can get students to see the map of what’s happening, and why it’s happening, how it really leads into what they’re doing, then we can talk about things like really being engaged and taking ownership of the process.” Rob Reynolds
In order to get students to see the map of their learning journey, we have to design the course to promote that visibility and give students context. This goes beyond just the key concepts in a course. Those are a given. You have to design the course for skills and competencies that will matter for students long after their finals. Skills such as strategic thinking and communication, collaboration, and writing. Skills and competencies that matter in the 21st Century, regardless of the student’s career path.
In order for students to grow in these skills, the assessments and assignments need to incorporate these competencies around the course material. So when students successfully complete the course, they have demonstrable evidence of those competencies.
Students typically have an idea of where they want their education to take them. A career. Graduate school. A promotion. Outside of a series of courses they need to take, students can’t always see the throughline in the specific skills and competencies that make up their own learning journey. If they can’t see this path, it’s difficult for them to own it and make educated decisions on how they want to navigate it.
We need to help students make the connections between what they are learning in one course, what they learned in a previous course, and what they will learn in a future course. Courses that are directly related to their degree as well as elective courses. They all connect. Once they see these connections, students are able to share them with future employers, graduate schools, and anyone who needs to know what a student is able to do.
At TEL, all of these ideas manifest themselves in our Student Learning Dashboard. In the webinar, Stacy Zemke provides an overview of where we are with the dashboard, as well as some of the functionality that is in the works. From badging and skills pages that give students that language for what they’ve learned to a portfolio and opportunities for reflection, the Student Learning Dashboard helps support students for their long-term success.