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Tassel, Diploma… Paycheck? Preparing students for the workforce.

Day 2 of the 2019 Teaching and Learning Conference got off to a great start with our highly-anticipated Dean Panel with Bob Daugherty and Dr. Iris Lafferty. One question that really resonated with me, and went on to be a prevailing theme in several sessions throughout the day, was centered on Career Readiness.

How does Ashford address skill gaps in career readiness? This is, after all, a very serious question. Our students have very specific goals in mind when they enroll – students want to improve their financial situation. They want a paycheck! Maybe they are already working and want a better paycheck.

Anyone who has had to look for a job in the last 10 years knows that in addition to a pretty diploma, employers want skills and experience. The workforce is competitive. So how does Ashford help students compete in the job market?

If you were listening today, you probably heard at least one person mention NACE standards and competencies. Dr. Lafferty commented that this was one way that Ashford has been aligning curriculum to meet the competencies that students need to be successful. If you attended the session led by Evan Gray on the Champs Peer Mentoring program, he stated that Champs has been aligned to NACE core competencies since the program was created four years ago. Again, in Dr. Craig Swenson’s keynote this afternoon, NACE standards were discussed as part of Ashford’s innovative plan to reimagine education.

Dr. Nathan Pritts goes a step further. In his presentation, Lighting the Path – Making Connections Between Classes and Towards Careers, he shows how in his course, Introduction to Film, students are asked at the end of the course to reflect on two skills they learned in the course that they could put on their LinkedIn profile. Dr. Pritts has already built-in learning outcomes that apply outside of the classroom. Now he is asking students to reflect on what they have learned and apply it in a very real and concrete way that could impact their career right now.

I mentioned the Champs program. Student organizations and programs another way that Ashford provides opportunities for students to gain experience and skills that will help them be competitive in the workforce. By volunteering to be a mentor to other students or getting involved in a student organization, these students are participating in activities that will contribute to their overall success in their career paths.

These are just a few examples from Day 2 of TLC. I am excited to see how our institution will continue to grow and innovate our contribution to career readiness. Ashford has an amazing opportunity to shift learning outcomes and educational practices to provide students with a pathway that successfully prepares them for the workforce and gives students the skills and opportunities necessary to walk away with a tassel, a diploma, and, of course, a paycheck.

Diana Boggan

Faculty Support & Development Associate II

Ashford University / Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

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