Supervisors Offer Their Perspective on Implementing SELO
Our department uses learning outcomes in two ways with our students. We incorporate Learning Outcomes with our student employees and our interns through staff training, staff meetings and finally assessed one on one 4 times a year (SELO) and through the end of semester intern presentations (SLO). The approach we use with SELO assessment with our student employees is almost identical to our approach with SLO with our interns except for the end of semester assessment.
However, through the evolution of learning outcome implementation, I've found that the best practice has been self-assessment or self-identification. It's both eye-opening to the students and supervisors when asked to self-identify on the various outcomes. I've observed that students tend to rate themselves higher at the beginning of the term than they do at the end of the term. I had a very frank conversation once with a graduate student who I had rated very high and found that she had rated herself as developing in most areas. She explained that as she progressed through the semester and engaged more, she realized that she still has more to learn. She self-identified that there is no specific end game for her in these outcomes, that once she rates herself accomplished that would mean she's not learning at all. That the process of learning and growing is forever changing and adapting. This was so profound for me and has made me change my entire perspective on how I assess students and myself as a supervisor .
I created a self-assessment tool that students could easily identify their behavior through observable outcomes, before understanding the spectrum on which they fell. I felt this gave students a non-threatening way to assess themselves honestly, which would give them the best opportunity for genuine growth. I then initiated conversations with each student staff member regularly to discuss ways they could develop themselves, both personally and professionally. As their supervisor, I went from merely assigning tasks, to actively developing their strengths, giving them opportunities to take independent ownership of tasks, many of which were relevant to their career goals post-college , and even had students develop and lead projects and team meetings, which not only gave them leadership experience, but it also gave the other students motivation to develop and perform at a higher level.
I’ve carried over what I’ve learned into academic affairs, and my background in student affairs continues to impact the way I manage my student staff, as well as the way I communicate with students in our academic programs. Many of my student staff continue to keep in contact with me, nearly a decade later. They often reiterate how much they learned in their role while working at Stony Brook University, and how it has contributed to their current success post-graduation.
Using the SELO tool has proven to be beneficial in regards to self-reflection for students. We worked this year to implement the SELO strategies in the work we do and personal development. Two areas where we best used SELO were in the professional/personal development and career development.
With extended staff meetings, we have been able to do more development initiatives as a staff. We were able to draw a connection between our implemented multiculturalism development sessions and the SELO learning area; I.1-Knowledge of Human Cultures - The student employee demonstrates sensitivity to differences. As a starter for discussion and activity, we watched together as a staff, the Tedtalk - Your Privilege is Showing. The video addressed innate biases people of racial privilege have followed by a board game created by the speaker. At the conclusion of this session, my staff was able to re-assess where they stand when it comes to intercultural sensitivity beyond self-reflection.
A topic often discussed individually with my staff members is what’s next for them following graduation and even the completion of an academic year as they matriculate. More importantly, how can they utilize all they accomplished and learned in future career moves. As a group we discussed the SELO Learning area; V.1 - Knowledge of Career Development - the student employee is able to understand the concept of transferable skills and how it applies to their career development. This semester specifically we engaged in article readings having to do with career development and transferable skills. Through discussions, we were able to better comprehend where they stand in this area, how they can improve efforts to use job skills in other aspects of their careers, and how they can use the skills gained from the position in any industry .
In the future, I would hope to use SELO in conjugation with our Community Engagement Model.
Active learning is not meant only for the classroom. As students experience their college years, they not only gain knowledge within their program of study but also within their campus work experience. Relevant information works effectively in different environments and our department conducts meaningful assessments twice a year, which proves to cultivate learning and personal growth.
The student’s experiences give them a measurable entity to see character improvement. Through SELO, documenting and measuring the students’ personal learning, knowledge and development outside of the classroom help to enhance them as well-rounded persons.
The student work experience gives them the opportunity to work cohesively together with peers, graduate students, staff and University professionals, and leads to additional knowledge and a sense of integrity . With this, comes a feeling of personal ownership. The one-on-one discussions held after the student self-assesses truly opens the conversation and inevitably leads to an eye-opener for the student to learn more about themselves and the world around them in ways they would not have imagined.
As a supervisor, when the assessment is consistent each semester, the development of each individual student is clearly evident. The students are truly amazed by their personal growth and are proud of their accomplishments.
I gathered the assessments of my staff and reviewed it with them. I allowed them to choose which categories they want to focus on and then gave them tasks that will help challenge them in that category. At the end of the semester, I asked them how they are feeling regarding the goals that they set at the start of the semester. One thing I made sure was when I gave them a task, I made it organic. For example, I have a staff member who is not as knowledgeable with topics related to diversity, so during staff meetings, I presented diversity topics from both sides and created an environment making it comfortable for everyone to share their thoughts. I was helping them grow in the Knowledge of Human Cultures domain by feeling comfortable to talk about difficult situations while listening to opposing views . My staff member mentioned that since his time at Stony Brook, this is his first time of learning so much about diversity and not only listening but also feeling comfortable to share his thoughts and understanding how to convey them to others. SELO helped me to see where each of my staff members is in terms of their own development as student leaders and how I can assist them in their growth by creating certain tasks and goals tailored to their own personal and professional journey.