The following case study was written in collaboration with the University of Memphis Career Services Team. Special thanks to Alisha Rose Henderson, Eric Wilson, and Cortez Washington for their efforts to support student success and partnership with Steppingblocks.
The University of Memphis first heard about Steppingblocks based on the great work that Georgia State University did with the tool. Memphis's provost at the time, Dr. Thomas Nenon, really understood that student success includes career readiness, and Steppingblocks is a great resource to help students make academic and career decisions based on actual data-drive outcomes. The university adopted Steppingblocks in the hopes of giving our students access to outcomes data that traditionally is very hard for universities to acquire.
Implementation and Rollout: Spring 2022
After setup and initial training, the University of Memphis career services team launched an expansive roadshow campaign with campus stakeholders and colleges to share information on the tools and resources available. Each roadshow centered on one of the colleges and invited deans, department chairs, faculty, and advising staff to learn more about the Steppingblocks initiative. It included a platform demo facilitated by Steppingblocks. These roadshows served to:
1. Educate faculty and staff on the data that was now available to them.
2. Provide campus stakeholders the opportunity to begin thinking about initiatives and questions that they could answer leveraging the Steppingblocks data.
3. Educate campus stakeholders of the tools available to their students alongside strategies to disseminate the information.
The career services department came away with a few insights on implementation during the campus roadshows. Most colleges and schools were eager to learn about the product and came away from the presentations excited about how Steppingblocks can help students and departments.
However, some people will question the validity of the data and that is a normal part of the introductory process. Implementation leaders should be prepared to talk about where the data comes from and why the data might be different from expectations. Feedback from the roadshow even lead to product improvements, including ensuring that all degrees show up in the Outcomes module so that no academic departments feel left out. The implementation team found that one of the most important takeaways from the introductory roadshows was to have clearly defined next steps so that adoption can continue to grow throughout the colleges and schools.
Launching Digital Career Counselor: Summer/Fall 2022
By the Summer, University of Memphis Career Services began efforts to leverage Steppingblocks directly with students. They took several approaches to support student-facing implementation including:
1. Educated ACAD 100 students about the resource during orientation presentations
2. Began utilizing Steppingblocks within career exploration courses
3. Developed assignments and activities to incorporate Steppingblocks into other courses at the University of Memphis.
The Career Services team also began using the Digital Career Counselor during career advising appointments with students. The team found that not only does this enable richer advising sessions, but it allows students to continue to explore on their own after the advising appointment is over.
By the end of Fall 2022, the University of Memphis saw 2,533 students use the Digital Career Counselor. Students have used the platform 5,915 times for a return rate of 52.3%
Next Steps: Spring 2023 and Beyond
The University of Memphis has big plans for Steppingblocks in 2023. Some of the items on the spring roadmap are:
1. Conducting lunch and learn sessions with departmental faculty to introduce the Digital Career Counselor and sample assignments that can be incorporated into coursework.
2. Kicking off the design of career exploration pages.
3. Partner with the Alumni and Advancement to leverage Graduate Insights data to better connect with graduates.
How are you leveraging graduate outcomes data?
Graduation outcomes have become increasingly important to higher education. Universities across the country are leveraging outcomes data to make strategic decisions or support their student success initiatives.
For example, Florida International University is leveraging data in their efforts to support alumni success. Georgia State is putting data-driven career roadmaps in the hands of every student as part of their leadership on the Taskforce of Higher Education and Opportunity.
Interested in how you could leverage Steppingblocks? Explore now.