It’s Ally, signing off!

Hello all! Today is my last day as a Research Assistant with Mapping the Student Engagement Journey. Where has the time gone? It feels like just yesterday I was starting the on-boarding process, catching up on student engagement and library literature, and discussing Hailley’s vision for this project. I’ve had an incredible year working with Hailley, and can’t wait to see how phase two of this project comes together. Before jumping into my overall reflections, I’d love to update you all on our summer progress.

Project updates

Throughout the past few months, Hailley and I have been collaborating on manuscripts and white papers. Our first priority was writing a white paper for the Penn State Student Engagement Network (SEN), outlining our methods and findings. Regarding our findings, we mainly focused on our interviewees’ recognition of student engagement opportunity types, how our interviewees found their “why”, and Penn State’s institutional responsibility to promote and enhance student engagement experiences. Additionally, we outlined our recommendations for the SEN, discussed the library’s point of view, and suggested related research questions that future student engagement studies can pursue. We hope this white paper gives the SEN a stronger understanding of our work and provides some new ideas for improving the student engagement landscape at Penn State.

Next, we outlined a manuscript focusing on the library angle of our project. Through this work, we hope to provide libraries with a greater understanding of how undergraduates view the library in relation to their student engagement journeys. Hailley will be providing publication updates throughout the next few months! In addition to this manuscript, Hailley and I have been working on two “mini papers.” These papers are essentially short white papers that dive deeper into our findings about one particular student engagement opportunity type. First, we worked on an undergraduate research mini paper. We wrote about students’ discovery processes and the barriers they faced while conducting undergraduate research. Next, we started a peer mentoring mini paper. Again, we discussed students’ discovery processes for these opportunities. We also wrote about the various motivations students had for becoming peer mentors. Moving forward, we hope these mini papers will provide valuable insight for Penn State departments that provide undergraduate research and peer mentoring opportunities.

What’s next?

Phase one of this project is wrapping up! Phase two of Mapping the Student Engagement Journey will focus on Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses. As we’ve learned throughout the year, every Penn Stater navigates the student engagement landscape differently, and has different perceptions of their experiences. I can’t wait to learn about how Penn Staters at Commonwealth Campuses view student engagement. I’m also excited to see who will become the next Research Assistants for Mapping the Student Engagement Journey. Hailley is gearing up for phase two, so be on the look out for some blog updates.

I’m also starting an exciting new chapter this fall. In August, I’ll be moving to Boston and starting my 1L year at Northeastern University School of Law. Right now, I’m planning on pursing employment law. However, I have a lot to learn and could certainly change my mind along the way. I’ll definitely miss Happy Valley, but I am also so excited for what’s next. I’ll be starting a brand new student engagement journey, which is pretty awesome!

Reflections & thank you’s

Yesterday, I was talking with Hailley about my main takeaway from this research experience. As I worked on this project, I realized that when you’re conducting research, the process is just as valuable and worth documenting as the final results. I loved blogging about our progress throughout the year, sharing both our successes and the challenges we faced. In previous research experiences, I think I only focused on the final results, and forgot to appreciate how those results came together. I’m glad I learned the value of documenting progress and I hope to take this lesson with me in research contexts and beyond. As for this blog, I will certainly be an avid reader! Hailley has some awesome ideas for phase two of Mapping the Student Engagement Journey and I am so excited to watch them come to life.

To wrap up my final blog post, I have a few thank you’s:

  • First, thanks so much to Hailley for having me as your Research Assistant this year! I am so flattered to have been a part of such a cool project. I learned so much from you, both research-related and just life-related. Thank you for allowing me to be so hands-on with this project and for guiding me through my first qualitative work/manuscript writing. This was an experience I’ll never forget.
  • I also want to say thanks to Penn State Library Learning Services for welcoming me to their space during the 2019-2020 academic year. I loved working there and have really missed it during quarantine!
  • Lastly, thanks to our blog readers and everyone who has kept up with phase one of Mapping the Student Engagement Journey. I loved sharing our progress with you, and hope you stick around for phase two.

Signing off,

Ally

Taylor Swift Thank You GIF
[Taylor Swift Thank You Gif via GIPHY]

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