The January 2015 Report Falling Short? College Learning and Career Success by the Association of American Colleges and Universities highlighted the discrepancy between students’ and employers’ views on job readiness. This, and a number of earlier studies, found that employers rated job readiness lower than recent college graduates themselves or their college did. The Ray Center at Drake University, in collaboration with the Institute for Excellence and Ethics is working to close this gap.
Excellence with IntegrityTM
Employability Skills are the behaviors above and beyond technical skills that enable employees to function in teams, to develop leadership skills, to present and ‘sell’ their ideas to others, to develop business acumen, to navigate in global organizations, etc.
Excellence with Integrity: Employability Essentials curricular resourcesfocus on the competencies included in the Employability Skills Capability Platform of STEMconnector and can be applied and incorporated into any discipline. Students in classrooms, internships, on-the-job trainings or other educational experiences that incorporate these resources will develop competencies for success across areas, including:
Facilitator guides distill the latest research on the core workforce competencies, and introduce replicable strategies, applied practice and real-world simulation activities for coaching on the targeted skills.
Student workbooks feature class activities for skill development, followed by strategies for self-reflection, goal setting, and monitoring one’s progress.
Internship handbooks target competencies in a professional journal article format, with links to relevant videos, articles, or books for expanded learning; guide practice for skill development with replicable strategies, and introduce Optimal Performance™assessment instruments for self-reflection and mentor coaching.
On-site faculty professional development on use of the curricular resources, the theory and research behind the tools and best practices for implementation.
Tuskegee University launched the Leadership and Excellence by Tuskegee University Students (LET US) Academy in the Fall of 2017. The Academy was designed with the goal of providing students with skills that enable them to share and sell ideas, function in teams, develop business acumen, create stakeholder buy-in and momentum, lead coworkers, and navigate increasingly complex global workforce settings.
Funding from the DuPont Corporation grant helped Tuskegee secure licensing and training on the Excellence with Integrity™ Employability Essentials curriculum from the Institute and The Ray Center at Drake University consortium, while also providing the resources to secure the personnel needed to lead the Academy and the implementation efforts.
The findings from the exploratory case study of the first two years of implementation describe emerging evidence of impact and insights for optimal implementation conditions.
Leadership Excellence at Des Moines Area Community College
A partnership collaboration with Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) has resulted in the development and field testing of the Leadership Excellence at DMACC – the LEAD program. Field testing proved successful in degree programs, internship seminars, and technical skill certification programs, which utilize the Excellence with Integrity curricular resources.
With proof of concept now in place, DMACC is deploying the LEAD program using Excellence with Integrity to impact additional students, programs and in turn, employers.
Students are seeing the impact. As one LEAD participant explains, “I went from being someone who had no drive to do much of anything to someone who was really driven. To have a class where they give you those tools to succeed is amazing.”
The success of this pilot has energized and motivated faculty as they can see the impact of the program on classroom culture and hear the impact from employers. A faculty member shared, “It’s very gratifying when you can hear from employers and graduating students that they are taking these materials that we presented to them and that they are able to use this every day in the workplace.”
“The rigorous and research-based, yet practical and user-friendly, Excellence with Integrity resources provide our instructors engaging educational knowledge that they can easily adapt for integration in their work. This cutting-edge educational experience, we believe, affords our students an advantage in their formation and workplace marketability through real-world development of the essential career readiness skills. More than a course or a curriculum, the Excellence with Integrity Knowledge, Tools, and Strategies can be used every day—in and out of the classroom. I am particularly impressed with the engagement and enthusiasm of our faculty in delivering this curriculum and their success in engaging students in STEMconnector 2.0 Capability Platforms.”
~ President Rob Denson, Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC)