Student Employment and High Impact Practices (HIPs)
By Phyllis Brown
Student workers are increasingly important to the functioning of the English Department. Student-workers testify to the impact their work has had on their learning. In addition to supporting Jessica Gopp by answering the phone and keeping the office open while Jessica is at meetings, they assist faculty by serving as research assistants, providing feedback to committees about student perspectives, and assisting with multimedia outreach to students, faculty, staff, and alumni. A significant part of their work for the last two years has been preparation of Works Sighted for publication. This year Leah Senatro worked with Julie Chang, Jessica Gopp, and Phyllis Brown to decide on articles to include, either solicit those articles from faculty or interview faculty and students to write the articles herself, and gather photos to illustrate the stories.
In 2007 the Association of American Colleges and University (AAC&U) identified ten high-impact practices (HIPs) that enhance classroom learning; since then, considerable research has confirmed the positive impact, and the number of HIPs has grown. Two recent publications focus on student employment as a HIP. A Good Job: Campus Employment As a High-Impact Practice (2018) presents research related to on-campus employment as a tool for transformative learning and Students Lead the Library: The Importance of Student Contributions to the Academic Library (2017) presents case studies that illustrate the value of student contributions to the work of academic libraries.
Our English Department student workers testify to the impact their work has had on their learning. One student reported on ways Core Curriculum learning related to sustainability contributed to her work in the English Department and conversely the way her work helped her better understand the challenges of getting well-meaning people to avoid wasteful practices. She particularly appreciated ways the work experiences gave substance to the abstract concepts from her course work. Another reported that working in the English Department made a HUGE impact on learning related to the professional writing courses for her major. In June she wrote, “I am currently working as a Graphic Design/ User Experience Design intern and have used many of the materials I made for the department in the interviews I had for this position. They were very impressed.”
Several students remarked that work in the Department Office impacted classroom learning because they were able to get to know faculty better and therefore could begin new classes with greater confidence. Students who have worked as faculty research assistants report particularly strong benefits. The article about Perla Luna’s work with Professor Cruz Medina offers more detail.
Another student worker provided valuable suggestions for increasing the impact of work in the English Department. Her work as a Writing Partner in the HUB Writing Center allowed her to set the standard for HIPs high. She reports that her two years working as a Writing Partner provided “one of her most-valued learning experiences at Santa Clara.” HUB Director Denise Krane makes the connection between work and classroom learning particularly strong because a course on writing center theory is a prerequisite for a position as a Writing Partner. The HUB Writing Center website provides examples of Writing Partner presentations at four different conferences since 2017.
Leah Senatro, the student assisting with Works Sighted this summer, reports, “While a lot of the work is simply writing emails to collect articles, reading all of the articles and getting into contact with professors has really helped me to see what professors are teaching, researching and publishing in the department.” This learning is particularly important for Leah because she begins doctoral study at UC Irvine in September.
Generous gift funds are fundamental to our being able to offer students work beyond clerical assistance to our office staff. We look forward to improving and increasing the opportunities of this HIP in the years to come.