For some college students, campus jobs are convenient jobs, and not much else.
But by adding a dose of intentional reflection and career planning, the Alaska PEAK program at University of Alaska Anchorage seeks to change that opinion for the roughly 850 students who work on campus. Whether a student is a lab tech or library assistant, PEAK aims to turn on-campus employment into a high-impact area of student success.
PEAK, which stands for Purposeful Engagement Assessing Knowledge, connects the dots between academics and employment at UAA, while making students feel a stronger connection with the university. How do experiences in the classroom and time on the job relate? And how can that help the student after graduation?
“What Alaska PEAK has done is create a common language for how supervisors talk with students about their learning experiences,” explained Whitney Brown, assessment and strategic projects director for the Office of Student Affairs. She launched PEAK in 2015, along with Ryan-Jasen Henne, director of Residence Life. Though the program is young, it’s already generating attention. The pair has presented PEAK at student affairs conferences in Anchorage, Orlando and Portland, Ore., as well as through national webinars.
Modeled after a similar program at University of Iowa, the program is deceptively simple. Supervisors talk about the PEAK process, at minimum, twice each semester with their staff. Students, at most, reflect on a list of five questions before those conversations.
The program’s simplicity — two meetings, five questions — belies the efforts and considerations behind it.
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