Faculty Resource Center Teaching Tip: Bringing Field Experiences to Students

In a series featuring Teaching Tips from the Faculty Resource Center, Katy Cathcart, Senior Instructor in the Department of Criminal Justice, shares about ways to connect students with experiences “in the field.”

Hear from Cathcart below.

Teaching Tip #3: Bringing Field Experiences to Students

By Katy Cathcart

Katy Cathcart is a Senior Instructor in the Department of Criminal Justice at UCCS.

Student engagement during one’s college experience can certainly be viewed as a positive way to encourage campus and peer connection. Involvement with student clubs and campus organizations contributes to the vision of UCCS to provide students with academically rigorous and life-enriching experiences in a vibrant university community.

An additional mode of student engagement includes direct connection to local professional agencies and can accelerate student success in transition to employment. Within higher education, this often translates to coordination of student internships during their degree completion. Internship opportunity can provide a wealth of direct experience, as well as advance valuable student networking.

One limitation of student internship is that often the experience occurs towards the end of student degree completion. To combat this, translation of student engagement at the beginning and throughout a student’s college progression is key. Bringing field experience to students can be accomplished in numerous ways and can often inspire student motivation and interest in course material. Benefits also include development of the UCCS relationship with local stakeholders, further advancing the community overall.

Here are some unique ideas for student engagement:

Develop a GPS Program Seminar that profiles degree application

GPS Section 032: “Careers in Criminal Justice” class visits the Pikes Peak Emergency Coordination Center in fall 2021.

One example of this can be observed GPS Section 032: Careers in Criminal Justice. Developed by the UCCS School of Public Affairs BACJ program, this GPS Program Seminar provides incoming freshmen with the opportunity to attend presentations by criminal justice professionals from Southern Colorado that represent numerous professions that exist within the field.

Another example is found in GPS Section 008: Meta Major-Healthcare. This unique course explores the intersection of Nursing and the transition into college life at UCCS. Students learn about the healthcare field with guest speakers, a tour of the Simulation center, and the UCCS cadaver lab.

Develop assignments that promote student engagement and collaboration

Student presentations at the Colorado Springs Undergraduate Research Forum (CSURF).

An example of this may include assigned attendance at coordinated campus presentations that feature field professionals.

Another unique example may include motivation for students to participate in the Colorado Springs Undergraduate Research Forum (CSURF). CSURF is a collaborative venture designed to highlight the research and creative works of undergraduates from Pikes Peak Community College, Colorado College, the United States Air Force Academy, and the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS).

Invite field professionals to guest lecture in classrooms

Bill Sturtevant, Colorado Springs Utilities, speaking to Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering students.

Consider multiple translations of degree application to allow for a richer experience. An example may include a “professional night” during which multiple guest speakers are invited to present professional bio.

An example of this can be found in a course developed by the UCCS Department of Communication, “Writing for the Media.” Recognizing student interest in sports media, Laura Eurich, Instructor and Associate Department Chair, invited Pulitzer Prize winner John Branch to the campus. Branch discussed the career path that led him to his current position with the New York Times, including his coverage of the Olympic Games.

Another example is found in the College of Engineering and Applied Science’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, which regularly invites guest speakers for the first-year MAE 1502 “Principles of Engineering” course. Bill Sturtevant from Colorado Springs Utilities was one of the three guest speakers in fall 2021. He spoke to the class on the topic of dam safety and introduced dam design and terminology. He also discussed the risk mitigation and active monitoring that is done to prevent and detect failures, critical areas for all engineers to understand.

This is the third in a series of Teaching Tips the Faculty Resource Center Teaching Fellows will publish, beginning in fall 2021. If you have suggestions for future articles, contact Lynnane George.

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