Opportunity Types

At Penn State, we group our student engagement experiences into 10 opportunity types. The table below can (and should) be revised as we continue to learn more about how students at Penn State complete engagement experiences. If you have a suggestion for a definition change or a variation to add, please email Hailley at hmf14@psu.edu.

Student engagement typeWorking definitionVariations
Undergraduate researchAs defined by the Council for Undergraduate Research (CUR), undergraduate research is “An inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline.”Department/Program theses (including for Schreyer Honors College), capstone projects with a major research component, and independent research completed with a faculty mentor; external research or university center
Professional experiencesAn experience within a discipline/profession where a student has the opportunity to take classroom knowledge and apply it in a practical setting.Credit and non-credit bearing internships, co-ops, clinical experiences, field experiences, client-based projects (outside of a course component)
Study abroad or study awayInternational and domestic travelCredit-bearing study abroad or study away experiences, various lengths (one week to one year)
Community-based learningAn experience where a student takes classroom knowledge and applies it in a community setting to aid a community, most often in identifying or attempting to solve a problemService learning, supervised field experiences, community development, tech transfer, immersive service experience, etc.
Creative accomplishmentAn experience where a student or group of students creates something new that is shared with a wider communityPublic performance, community and creative arts programs, design consultations
Courses with out-of-class componentsCourses that require interaction with an external entity (ex. embedded travel courses, projects that interact with industry, government, community organizations, businesses, etc.)Could be a one-week travel component, during a break in the semester, or consulting with a business and coming up with a marketing plan to be implemented. Could also include Honors classes in which students are asked to do work above and beyond a normal class and in the process, interact with a community group
Organizational experiencesActive participation (which can include leadership responsibilities) with a student organization, professional organization, advisory group, student government, or community boardStudent organizations, student government (UPUA, CCSG), an advisory board (Libraries Advisory Group, MRC Student Advisory Board), etc.
Peer mentoringA more experienced student providing support to their peers in a variety of settings, usually outside the classroom.Resident assistants, orientation leader, learning assistants, peer counseling, Peer Research Consultants, Writing Tutors, LEAP mentors, etc. Can also include peer mentoring programs where older students provide advice to the younger cohort.
Self-directed student engagementActivities that allow students to apply their learning in special circumstances or acquire new skills in the process of the experience. Student might seek out this opportunity because they want to network, or recognize a gap in their skill set they want to improve or expand on.Completion of a leadership program or training, Nittany AI Challenge, the Spark Program, Data Hack-a-thon, etc.
VolunteerismVolunteering within the campus or community for an extended period of servicePhilanthropic service, civic engagement