UI students have a new tool for tracking non-academic experiences that enrich their education, foster leadership and other skills, and influence career directions.
Built on MAUI, the university’s home-grown student records system, the Student Engagement Record—also known as Hawkeye Engage—provides an at-a-glance view of involvement with student organizations, campus employment, and study abroad.
“We want to ensure students have a record of their total experience,” says Teri Schnelle, director of projects and partnerships for the Division of Student Life. “Ultimately, we want a student to be able to look at this record and ask, ‘What’s next on my journey?’”
Student Life worked with the Pomerantz Career Center, ITS Administrative Information Systems, and other partners to develop the system. It went live in spring 2022.
More than just a list of activities
Project leads initially set out to develop a “co-curricular transcript” in keeping with priorities from the university’s 2016-2021 strategic plan. But in talking with students, they realized they needed to go further.
“Our focus became more experiential than co-curricular,” says Angi McKie, director of the Pomerantz Career Center. “Students said they wanted to see how specific experiences connected with competencies like leadership and communication.”
Students build their own engagement records by logging into MyUI, reviewing a list of their experiences automatically pulled from various campus systems, and choosing what they want to highlight.
The resulting engagement records list not just activities, but also the skills these activities develop, as well as the Iowa Challenge values they represent. See an example on the university’s student engagement website.
Info from disparate data sources
ITS developers started the project by focusing on readily available data on student organizations, Greek life, student employment, and study abroad. Engagement records for each student automatically collect applicable data on these experiences.
“Having a centralized source of student engagement data empowers the university to track student participation in high-impact practices, measure the impact of engagement activities on student success, and identify opportunities to align with overall success strategies,” says Bill Evanson, senior application architect for Administrative Information Systems.
Developers now are turning attention to activities like research or internships that are logged across multiple systems. In time, students may be able to add their own information about experiences not tracked by the university.
“We wanted to start with authoritative data sources,” Schnelle says. “It’s accurate and easy for students—they don’t have to enter anything.”
Project leads also aim to add easy-to-use tools that prompt students think about their experiences and tell more compelling stories for prospective employers, for example.
“Our plan is to build in a reflective component that helps students articulate the things they’ve learned,” Scnhelle says. “We’re supporting a focus on skills over tasks—less ‘I put on an event’ and more ‘I used planning and teamwork to make our event a success.’”
The system supports a larger, ongoing push to help students—undergraduates especially—get involved in campus life and reap the benefits that come with engagement.
“Research shows that engaged students are more successful academically, socially, and across other dimensions,” Schnelle says. “We want to provide equitable access and help students understand all the opportunities available.”
Insights for university units
Early student feedback has been positive. “Students like having all this information in one place,” Schnelle says. “We’re hearing lots of ideas for things we might add.”
The system also may offer insights for staff from Student Life, the Career Center, and other units that advise students on how to get involved, build their skills, and enhance their career prospects.
“We can see what percentage of students are engaged, what they’re engaged in, and when they tend to get engaged in different activities,” Schnelle says. “In time, we hope to have dashboards we can open up to UI colleges and other units.”