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Taylor Phoumivong

Master's Student, College Student Personnel

a picture of Taylor in a suit

One of our own, Taylor Phoumivong, a second year College Student Personnell Master of Science students, is making a great impact on SIU in the area of assessment. We asked Taylor to share his experience and plan for implementing co-curricular assessment here at SIU. Here's what he had to say:

Student learning on college campuses has changed dramatically over the past few years. We know that learning is happening when our students are in their classes, but what about the learning that is occurring outside of those spaces? How do we add value to our co-curricular programs so that each student walks away with something that will improve outcomes during and after college? The desire to answer these questions and enhance student learning serve as the foundation for my involvement with the Co-Curricular Assessment committee at Southern Illinois University (SIU).

Seeking to expand my professional development, I initiated an internship with the SIU Office of Assessment and Program Review in August 2015.  Collaborating with the Division of Student Affairs and the Assessment Fellows (Dr. Deborah Barnett – Office of Non Traditional Student Services & Heather Brake – Office of Student Involvement), we examined ways to prove the value co-curricular programs and looked to reconsider the ways that we approach student involvement on our campus. Through extensive research and focus group meetings, we devised a pilot program called, “The SIU ADVANTAGE.” This program is a co-curricular journey designed to redefine student development outside of the classroom setting. The SIU ADVANTAGE focuses on bringing students together at traditional and signature university functions so that they are able to create a social network among their peers and receive exposure to specific events that complement their academic pursuits. The SIU ADVANTAGE includes four uniquely designed “tracks” that provide students with a monthly roadmap to developing themselves in the following areas: Cultural Competency, Interpersonal & Intrapersonal Development, Personal & Social Responsibility, and Intellectual & Professional Skills.

Under each SIU ADVANTAGE track, student learning outcomes were identified to ensure that programmers of on-campus events are ensuring that some type of learning is occurring. The following is a list of the learning outcomes that were included for each track:

Personal & Social Responsibility: Students will be provided opportunities to develop in the areas of civic engagement, sustainability, financial responsibility, ethics & integrity, and personal responsibility.

Intrapersonal & Interpersonal Development: Students will be provided opportunities to development in the areas of health & wellness, advocacy, interpersonal communication, and self-awareness.

Cultural Competency: Students will be provided opportunities to development in the areas of valuing cultural & human differences, and global consciousness.

Intellectual & Professional Skills: Students will be provided opportunities to develop in the areas of leadership, teamwork, new knowledge & application, inquiry & analysis, professionalism & career development, problem solving & creativity, goals & planning, and critical thinking.  

These tracks were narrowed down as areas that we should be more intentional on developing our students in as prior research indicated that these traits were what makes a stronger candidate for future events such as job searching or pursuing graduate school. To reiterate, this program was uniquely designed in a way to assist students in understanding their own personhood while connecting them to events, people, and resources that will advance them to whatever they aspire to be post-graduation.

As institutions of higher learning continue to grow and evolve, the ways that we work with students will also require continued innovation. Overall, it is important that we re-evaluate the ways in which we currently see, structure, and measure the value of student involvement. There needs to be a cultural shift in seeing co-curricular learning as a complement to academic learning rather than viewing the two as separate spheres. If we can meet in the middle, then our students can receive more life changing and expanding opportunities.