Hi all, it’s Ally. These past few weeks have been really exciting for Hailley and I as we progress farther with this project. Interviews have officially started! Our first interview was last week with an enthusiastic student from the College of Health and Human Development. This randomly selected student is actually a good friend of mine! Penn State really is a small world once you’ve been here for a while.
I took the lead on the interview questions and I think the process went well overall. Our questions seem to flow really nicely and elicit the information we’re looking for from students. During these next few interviews, I’m hoping to improve my probing skills by asking more intentional, off-script questions. Although our scripted questions are important for data collection, I think it’s also crucial to talk with students about their unique experiences that may not fall into our prepared question categories. For example, last week’s interviewee was a transfer student from another university. Because of this unique characteristic, I adjusted some of our questions to investigate how transfer students may experience student engagement at University Park. I’m hoping to apply this spontaneous probing to my upcoming interview this Wednesday.
I’ve already noticed intriguing patterns in the interviews I’ve led, which is really exciting. Many students seem to take on student engagement opportunities for practical reasons such as resume building or hands-on experience in their fields. However, students also seem to have social motives like meeting new friends or making this large university feel smaller. Hailley and I are eager to see how these motivations differ between colleges. I predict that some colleges may promote exploratory student engagement while others strongly emphasize career-related opportunities. This difference among colleges could have really interesting implications for how students present their engagement opportunities and market themselves to employers.
This Week’s Plan
This week, Hailley and I have two interviews to complete. We’re also emailing students from our sample to schedule more interviews for October. On top of scheduling, Hailley and are preparing our presentation for the Penn State Student Engagement Summit. I’m so eager to share our research with the Penn State community. Hopefully we’ll gain some helpful feedback and new supporters for this project. We definitely have busy but exciting weeks ahead of us!