How University Staff Can Foster Student Professional Development

IEEE Computer Society Team
Published 04/13/2023
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Student Professional Development

Colleges and universities simply don’t look the way they used to; instead of one-dimensional lectures and tests, students are collaborating with faculty; learning from hands-on, real-life projects; participating in immersive co-operatives and internships; operating their undergraduate research programs; choosing their extracurriculars, and so much more. Interactive learning is on the rise; 74% of teachers have digital game-based learning, and students are responding positively to the new age of learning. Especially for engineering students, the education they receive now is wildly different and more hands-on, truly creating a “whole new engineer.”

The Importance of Student-Professor Relationships

One of the best ways for engineering students to learn in a hands-on, collaborative way is through staff collaboration. An analysis of 46 studies found that positive student-professor relationships enhanced every measurable aspect of academic success, such as attendance, grade performance, and graduation rates. Getting to know professors on a deeper level led to students being more involved in office hours, garnering feedback, improving their career trajectory, and overall, creating more satisfactory professional development. Staff interaction can also improve student motivation, which leads to deeper learning, improved cognition, and more effective mastery of subjects. These positive effects are also often long-lasting and widespread, enhancing all areas of academic and social development.

Staff Collaborations Offer a Unique Element to Student Professional Development

One of the main ways to foster unique student-faculty relationships is through staff collaborations. As modern engineers are more connected throughout their work with different departments and are often responsible for collaborating with vendors and strategic partners, the relationship with university staff sets the foundation for effective professional relationships. Research shows that mentorship teams help broaden a student’s network and help involve them in the staff member’s industry connections. Students learn how to balance diverse relationships, seek mentorship, adapt to team dynamics, and partner with staff as change agents in the university. Staff collaborations take the student-faculty relationship one lever deeper, offering more opportunities for close learning.

Download “Illuminating Staff Collaborations in Student Professional Development”

Download “Illuminating Staff Collaborations in Student Professional Development” from the 2020 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE) to learn more about three teams that were part of larger efforts at major public American universities to foster these unique relationships between students and staff. These staff-led groups included six or eight team members and were studied to determine how these relationship dynamics improved student professional development. Learn the results of these teams across several areas.

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