Previously we discussed the ways in which student employment can be viewed as a High-Impact Practice, and how libraries can take advantage of this opportunity to deepen relationships with student workers and teach them even more valuable skills. Now I’d like to highlight a program that’s done this particularly well.
The University of Iowa created the GROW (Guided Reflection On Work) program to help supervisors of student employees hold meaningful conversations about their job and what they’re learning. They provide four specific questions and train supervisors in most effective use of these questions. The questions are:
- How is this job fitting in with your academics?
- What are you learning here that’s helping you in school?
- What are you learning in class that you can apply here at work?
- Can you give me a couple of examples of things you’ve learned here that you think you’ll use in your chosen profession? (University of Iowa, 2019)
While the questions are simple, it is important for supervisors to be trained in holding these conversations. University of Iowa provides valuable directions for implementation, including the strong suggestion to have a pilot first. Start with volunteers: supervisors who want to be part of this effort and who want to help students learn more than the rote tasks of the job. Then let these supervisors help lead the effort with their peers.
University of Iowa has licensed this program to many colleges and universities. See if your student affairs/ student life unit is one of them. On my campus, Ohio State University, our office of Student Life is licensing the Iowa GROW model for use in their Student Employment Experience (SEE) program. As part of this work, they now offer their student employee supervision training once a quarter to anyone in the university.