- When graduate students are paired with professionals in their fields, they exhibit deeper learning and passion for the work, according to recent research from the University of Houston.
- Most research on academic mentoring has examined peer relationships, according to Consuelo Waight, associate professor at the university and corresponding author of a paper on the research.
- The new study instead considered how forming a relationship with a practitioner in a student's field can boost learning and comes as more colleges consider how classroom education ties into job experiences.
Facing concerns about the value of the education they provide, colleges have been looking for new ways to link students' experiences more closely to their future jobs. Several are implementing immersive learning experiences, such as co-ops and opportunities to earn industry-recognized certificates en route to a full degree.
They're also looking to employers for help identifying what knowledge and abilities are required of graduates in their respective fields. In turn, those companies are seeking creative ways to address what they say is a critical lack of key job skills internally and among new hires as technology changes the requirements of many roles.
As the U of Houston research describes, some companies are focused on students, aiming to inspire and engage them before they enter the workforce.
Frito-Lay is banking on apprenticeships to demonstrate the benefits of jobs in manufacturing, for example. John Deere has backed a STEM computer science academy in Iowa to prepare high schoolers for computer science careers. Others are working to drum up interest from even younger students.
"By taking the students outside the classroom, they saw the relevance and meaningfulness of what they were learning," Waight said in a statement. "That motivated them beyond case studies."
Colleges and employers are finding other common ground when it comes to ensuring graduates are adequately trained for the workforce. For instance, some staffing firms train white collar workers before officially placing them with employers, and new industry-backed credentials can give students college credit while giving them a leg up in the hiring process.