What College Students Gained Serving on Hiring Committees for Student Job Openings: From Initial Survey to Post-Graduation Transfer of Learning

What College Students Gained Serving on Hiring Committees for Student Job Openings: From Initial Survey to Post-Graduation Transfer of Learning

Christina Van Wingerden (Western Washington University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6046-5.ch032
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Abstract

The value of student participation in hiring committees at the college level is the focus of this chapter. Students, identified as “selectors,” participated in all aspects of hiring toward a “best” candidate. Student selectors, from two types of student employees within the structure of a university student union, and two hiring processes are assessed (referred to as student activities and facilities). A guided questionnaire is used to investigate skill development gained, used, and eventually transferred to experiences after graduation. Two models frame the plan. Surveys and focus groups are based on Kirkpatrick's and Kirkpatrick's (2006) The Four Levels. The development of a systematic evaluation plan is based on Caffarella's (2002) Interactive Program Planning Model. Exploring the value of experiential learning in student employment settings is a key to the assessment approach. An appraisal of the student experience, when environments are intentionally created to give students the chance to practice, use, and build skills in real life scenarios, had not been evidenced previously in a formal way. Furthermore, an inquiry of transfer of learning post-graduation is examined.
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Introduction

Experiential learning is a key component of this college student union experience. The student activities and facilities work experiences offer students opportunities to manage budgets, make decisions that are impactful to the organization(s) and the university, and grow in leadership development and life skills. The student activities/facilities administrators strive to provide students with autonomy, and the ability to experience effects and consequences of decisions. Student roles in student activities, in particular, are structured in a way that empowers students to act while providing advisement. The facilities hiring process is a staff driven process, versus student driven. Facilities hire using university (supervisory) non-student staff to oversee and make the final hiring decision. Facilities student employment positions are more service oriented. Examples of student positions in facilities are: set-up crew and technical crew(s) for events, student building managers, student information desk attendants, recycle center staff, and student office clerks.

Hiring committees are a common employment experience for both student activities and facilities students. Based on the assumptions of the administrators, the hypothesis used was, students who participate in search committees as student “selectors” hiring other students, gain skills that would benefit these “selectors” post-college. This claim was investigated through an assessment plan. Assessment findings indicated that students experienced high rates of employment post-graduation and suggested selector experiences as a contributing factor.

The assessment results indicate that student selectors gained valuable skills to use in life after college. This is compelling evidence to lead this organization to further pursue exploration of additional co-curricular experiences of students within the student activities and facilities arena. Figure 1 shows the facilities application and hiring process.

Figure 1.

Student facilities application and hiring process

Processing flow chart to depict the process for the student facilities application and hiring process. This process differs from the student activities process as it is internally driven and staff initiated and monitored. There is latitude in how to review applications, develop questions for interviews, and hiring between facilities areas. This results in variance within the student facilities areas in hiring process and practices. Figure 2 shows the student activities application and hiring process.

Figure 2.

Student activities application and hiring process

EASE is the Electronic Application System for Employment that the university uses for hiring staff, administrators and faculty. The student activities student hiring process have adopted this as their tool and process for hiring. Hiring practices and procedures for the student activities are succinct, occur at the same time, and are uniform and consistent year to year.

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Summary Of Assessment Plan

The student activities employment process occurs annually, every spring quarter. In 2012, there were 1400 applicants and 27 search committees. The facilities student employment process has most hiring committees amid spring quarter, however, facilities also hire throughout the year. Facilities have a maximum of 50 annual student hires. One striking difference between the student activities and facilities hiring process is employees in student activities need to re-apply for their positions annually. Likewise, the student activities hiring process is overseen and implemented by students in student professional positions, like the student Personnel Director. Student government positions (the student Board of Directors) are conducted through elections, a separate hiring process. Oversight for the facilities employment process is done by administrative staff, and facilities employees, are able to keep their positions if they choose, until they graduate.

Figure 3.

Differences between the two hiring processes are distinct and compelling considering both processes are housed within the same organization

Key Terms in this Chapter

EASE: Electronic application system of employment.

Student Activities: Students who work in a student union who have leadership, programming, governance, and legislative roles within a student run structure, including decision making over large funding stream.

Student Selectors: A term used to describe students who sit on hiring committees which hire other students in a university student activities and/or facilities setting.

Sustainable Assessment: “Encompasses the abilities required to undertake those activities that necessarily accompany learning throughout life in formal and informal settings. An indispensable accompaniment to lifelong learning” ( Boud, 2000 , p. 152).

Experiential Learning: “In its simplest form, means learning from experience or learning by doing. Experiential education first immerses adult learners in an experience and then encourages reflection about the experience to develop new skills, new attitudes, or new ways of thinking” ( Lewis & Williams, 1994 , p. 5).

(Student) Facilities: Generic term to replace actual name for employees of a student union who work in service roles at a university.

Transfer of Learning: “The effective and continuing application by learners – to their performance of jobs or other individual, organizational, or community responsibilities – of knowledge and skills gained in learning activities. Transfer of learning is identified as change in attitude, a demonstration of the acquisition of new knowledge, or a change in behavior” (Daffron & North, 2009 AU27: The in-text citation "Daffron & North, 2009" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. , p. 2).

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