For the past several months, the ePortfolio Office and the Advising, Career and Transfer Offices have collaborated in developing the Strengthening Advisement and Integrative Learning for Advanced Students Pilot Program.
As one of the leaders of this project, I am particularly excited because it is one of the sweet fruits of our collaborative work with our Advising, Career and Transfer colleagues. We started exploring the use of ePortfolios in advising two or three years ago through the Art of Advising (AoA) seminars and now that we are actually implementing it I am grateful that I am able to see it coming to reality. I am also excited that the Graduation Plans we generated from the AoA seminars, with the collaboration of the Career Center, are a big part of the First Year Experience.
The Strengthening Advisement and Integrative Learning for Advanced Students Program aims to:
- Strengthen the advisement process leading up to and culminating in Capstone courses, building on the integrative Graduation plan modules developed for the First Year Seminar ePortfolios.
- Build connections with advising teams, by developing a knowledge-base to determine what student service and advising support can be offered students through the Capstone Studio Hour at specific points in the semester.
- Design ways to help students integrate their learning experiences and make visible the connection with the Core Competency Framework, particularly integrative learning as manifested in the students’ capstone ePortfolios.
To achieve these goals, the following implementing processes have been put in place:
- To ensure the sustained integration of ePortfolios in advising, ePConsultants (ePCs) will be assigned as members of the advising teams; at the same time, two advising sessions, to be co-facilitated by the ePCs and Student Affairs professionals will be made part of the studio hour attached to a Capstone course taught by the ePCs. The advising sessions will cover topics such as conducting a graduation check and exploring and finalizing career and transfer plans and other relevant advising areas of focus.
- ePCs have been assigned to one of the seven advising teams. The ePCs will provide ePortfolio support to the team. As part of the team, the ePortfolio Consultant will have immediate connection with specific staff members from Student Advising Services (SAS), Office of Transfer Services (OTS) and Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD). As a team, they will work together to move students through their career and educational plans by referring to resources within the team and College-wide.
- When advising students, advisors will refer to specific sections of the ePortfolio in collaboration, supported by the ePCs. For example, academic advisors will ask about students’ progress in achieving their goals. The advisor can check-in with students to see how the student is progressing- are they on track? If not, have their goals changed? Do they need help in getting back on track? ePCs will help the advisors navigate to the different ePortfolio pages which contain information related to these questions. Advisors and ePCs can also encourage students to complete their Graduation Plan and transfer it to their planner in DA.
- Students can use CCPD services to both explore occupations identified and work on their resumes. Employment Specialist can help students refine their resumes as they develop skills and engage in professional experiences, career advisors can help them explore the career options students’ identified and help them narrow down their choices. Likewise, OTS staff can engage students in the transfer process.
- All staff will refer to the material in “About Me” during conversations with students. Students’ reflections from conversations with staff (and faculty) can be incorporated in the ePortfolio.
- To move forward it will be helpful to have an ePortfolio Consultant, and staff from SAS, OTS and CCPD develop a set of guide questions for each of their areas. This will ensure that students have a consistent experience across teams. Cross-training of staff will be provided to ensure that each area had clarity on the services that are provided in each office, ensure appropriate referrals and help the student understand what to expect when they visit the one of these areas.
- The cooperation of the Capstone faculty in overseeing the integration of advising in their respective courses is key in this effort.
The Capstone faculty who are part of the pilot are Professors Dahlia Elsayed, Fine Arts; Reginald Eze, Mathematics, Computer and Engineering; Rajendra Bhika, Business and Technology; Steven Hitt, Theater Arts; and Debra Engel, Physical Therapy.
To date, the cross-training of ePortfolio Consultants on advising and Advising, Career and Transfer staff on ePortfolio have already started. Future trainings are still being planned.
I also am thrilled to go to the next steps of extending the use of ePortfolios in Capstone courses while strengthening integrative learning– which is what this project is about. It’s like going full circle and it feels good.