Learning from experience isn’t anything new; it is as old as Confucian philosophy.
The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) researched the elements of a student experience, the likelihood of graduation and subsequent success. Research (George Kuh, 2008, 2013) has indicated that when students participate in high-impact learning experiences (for example, learning communities, service learning, intracultural learning and internships), their level of learning increases. The components of a college experience that predict higher levels of success were labeled as Essential Learning Outcomes. To achieve the Essential Learning Outcomes, they identified several High-Impact Practices – experiences that help to bring about student success. Internships rank among these “High Impact Practices.”
“If a student has the opportunity for an internship, we know odds of success academically and career-wise go up drastically; it is a pivotal component of student success,” said David Schaal, VP of Student Life at Graceland University. “That’s the reason we’re interested in internships and service learning beyond the other holistic liberal arts experience.”
Katie Bash, VP for Institutional Effectiveness, has led GU’s strategic planning document, a process that has distilled five goals for Graceland. The first is to Enhance Student Success, which Graceland defines as demonstrated achievement of Essential Learning Outcomes.
Faculty, staff and the Alumni Board are working together to increase the number and quality of internships available to Graceland students by connecting professional alumni and friends with students. The Alumni Board of Trustees sub-group, GU4U, has recently formed to research and develop a mentoring process that will include various internship models. The diverse group will also focus on recruitment and listing of available alumni who will assist students in accessing high quality internships.
There isn’t enough space to highlight them all – but here are some student spotlights – just a sprinkling of the many who have experienced an internship and are on the road to student success.