CSM Facilitates Experiential Learning Programs for the University of North Alabama

 In Career Services

The University of North Alabama (UNA) is utilizing Symplicity CSM in one unique way: to expand and track its experiential learning programs. A regional public university of just more than 8,000 students in Florence, Alabama, UNA has a unique experiential learning criterion for many of its students across various departments, from music, science, health, study abroad, and more. Symplicity CSM’s Experiential Learning (EL) module has helped UNA increase experiential learning participation that began with the College of Business and has expanded to 25 different departments as a result of the ability to easily track hours, increase the amount of data collected, and customize the experiential learning module for each department’s student reporting.

 

Highlights

  • Utilizing CSM’s Experiential Learning module has allowed for UNA’s unique Industrial Hygiene program to monitor and track hours for internships and specific graduation requirements.
  • The ability to easily pull and track annual data on experiential learning has expanded UNA’s utilization throughout 25 department’s at UNA.
  • Since implementing CSM, UNA has had a 17 percent increase in the number of departmental internships reported and tracked.
  • UNA’s experiential learning student participation increased 72 percent between 2018-2019.

EL In the Arts

Utilizing CSM’s experiential learning module allowed UNA’s Department of Music to track preparation for recitals. With CSM, music professors can track and document the long hours of practice, research into the instrumentation of the performance pieces, and search for venue spaces and accompanists. For example, a UNA clarinetist was preparing for a senior recital, and the music department recorded the time spent as experiential learning. The student’s music professor was able to track rehearsal hours and document a variety of components that are involved in a recital assessment within the CSM system. At the end of the semester, the student was able to count the long hours of work, not just as a program requirement, but also as a career training opportunity.

“It wasn’t just that student being able to play the clarinet and they did spend many hours rehearsing … but it was also the time that was involved in researching the music, which also affects the way that the performer presents it through the feeling and emotion and understanding the background, as well as the history and the composing. That information, along with all the many other tasks that student was doing, was able to be tracked as experiential learning, along with the number of hours that they were putting into the tasks themselves.”

Melissa Medlin
Director of Career Services, University of North Alabama

Validation Through Student Data

SM’s EL module has validated UNA’s education efforts to prepare students for jobs by providing career services staff, deans, provosts, and students with the data necessary for individual guidance and accreditation. Before implementing CSM, UNA’s Career Center Director Melissa Medlin noted that their experiential learning programs involved hours of rummaging through paperwork to get signed evaluation forms to students and employers sent through scanned emails. Now, if staff members want to research and run a report on how students are using their career services resources year by year, staff members can easily pull up year-by-year reports. This has supported UNA’s efforts related to accreditation, usage, and statistics for funding and university recruiting.

“Having this system and the EL module allows us to have credible documentation of experiences, as opposed to all illustrations being anecdotal… It’s a that increases documentation, verification, and credibility because our faculty need quantitative information when it comes to marketing their programs.”

Melissa Medlin
Director of Career Services, University of North Alabama

EL for UNA’s Industrial Hygiene Program

One of the biggest users of CSM’s EL module is UNA’s Industrial Hygiene program. UNA has one of four ABET accredited bachelor programs in the United States for Industrial Hygiene, which is the study of “protecting the health and safety of people where they work.” To complete a degree in Industrial Hygiene, individuals are asked to complete an experiential learning requirement. After implementing CSM’s EL Module, the department was able to make custom evaluation forms that work for their specific learning requirements, from knowing a particular chemical makeup and chemical knowledge assessment, to tracking hours, confirming knowledge base, and more. Additionally, CSM’s EL module allowed for those who employed Industrial Hygiene students to evaluate each student on specific questions based on the student and the type of work they did by sending evaluation forms from within the system. As a result, UNA had a 95 percent response rate with employer evaluations submissions last year.

Quick Facts

  • Symplicity User Since: 2009
  • Location: Florence, Alabama
  • Student Enrollment: 8,050
“It was the customization that was the selling point because departments don’t like to all do the same thing. They have different hour requirements, types of questions, and evaluations. To be able to share data from within the Experiential Learning module with faculty means they don’t have to chase down particular employers at the end of the semester—they can just automatically send out the evaluation forms through the system.”

Melissa Medlin
Director of Career Services, University of North Alabama

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