How and Why Southeastern Implemented the RWR Campaign:
“Real-World Ready” (RWR) emerged and developed from a multi-year conversation with students, faculty, administrators, staff, alumni, and community partners on how to improve student learning. A reoccurring topic was the need to provide authentic, real world, experiences to supplement classroom instruction. Existing campus data and a review of current practices confirmed the need for improvement. A review of the literature suggested that providing additional experiential opportunities for students would be a valuable learning strategy for re-enforcing classroom instruction. As a result, Southeastern chose to move forward with our “Real-World Ready” campaign.
While we did not coin the phrase “Real-World Ready,” it clearly articulates our primary goal: To prepare students for a professional life after academics by providing authentic learning opportunities that connect academic courses with real-world experiences. This goal aligns with Southeastern’s mission to “lead the educational, economic and cultural development of southeast Louisiana.” Further, it promotes the core values of excellence and caring, and addresses our strategic priorities as outlined in Southeastern Louisiana University’s Strategic Plan, Vision 2017. Finally, it provides a tool for addressing workforce needs in the state of Louisiana.
WHAT WE DO:
While there are pockets of authentic learning (i.e., experiential or performance-centered) opportunities at Southeastern, the University does not currently require all undergraduate degree programs to include a Real-World Ready component for their students. Further, there has not been uniform campus-wide assessment for experiential-learning activities. As students clearly indicated in Southeastern's recent BE HEARD campaign, they want experiences in the real world to play a role in their educational pursuits. Through this initiative, the University is responding to students and departments with a commitment to organize, reassert, and institutionalize experiential learning as a meaningful method for guiding students to a fuller understanding and application of classroom instruction.
Depending on the discipline, current experiential-learning activities fall into the categories of service-learning, civic engagement, internships, study abroad, research or creative activity. Through this initiative, we are expanding these offerings such that every undergraduate degree program will have an experiential component integrated in an existing course by Summer 2019. These activities will help students to connect their academic experiences more fully with their future professions, and to gain meaningful skills and knowledge for the careers they have chosen. Common characteristics of these experiences that align with Student Learning Outcomes will be identified and assessed using standardized measures and common rubrics to ensure that all students are meeting a common set of expectations. We operate under the auspices of the Division of Academic Affairs to ensure academic rigor as students gain practical understanding and cultivate professionalism. We work to increase the quality and quantity of RWR experiences.
STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES:
RWR will provide students the opportunity to apply the discipline in a professional context by integrating an experiential-learning component into the undergraduate curricula for those degree programs without an existing opportunity and by enhancing current experiential-learning components. Four outcomes will be the measure of student learning:
1) Students will apply professional (discipline-specific) knowledge in an authentic setting;
2) Students will demonstrate effective communication in a professionally authentic form;
3) Students will reflect on their work—identifying strengths and weaknesses of product and process, and deriving directions for future efforts; and
4) Students’ professional behaviors will reflect a commitment to quality work.
Read more about Southeastern’s Real-World Ready initiative.