[ Student Success ] Co-Curricular Activities Fostering Learning A panel of professionals – including a nurse and police officer – talk about how they use their writing skills on the job. A humanities class exploring prison literature visits a local corrections facility. Two classes of political science students attend a debate between U.S. Senate candidates. These are all examples of Student Engagement at Middlesex, a formal program of co-curricular activities designed to promote student success. Under the direction of Paula Dias, MCC’s Student Learning Engagement Specialist, the program is now in its fourth year and picking up steam. “All the educational research shows that college students who are involved and engaged on campus, do better academically,” explained Dias. “This program is all about connecting course content to experiential learning.” Dias works with faculty to schedule speakers and outside activities, with the goal of strengthening faculty/student connections, and supporting classroom curricula and Institutional Student Learning Outcomes (see box, below). “We are programming activities that four-year, residential college students might go to as part of the typical ‘college experience,’ ’’ said Dias. “But since our students are often busy with jobs and family responsibilities, they don’t always have time to attend events outside of class. So we are making engagement opportunities happen during class time.” In order to get the word out to faculty, Dias publishes a monthly Engagement Newsletter on the MCC website, and regularly attends division and department meetings. “I’d say I spent the first couple of years educating the faculty,” said Dias. “But now, it has just exploded! We have doubled our programming budget and more than doubled the number of Student Engagement programs – from about 20 per year when I started, to almost 70 last year,” she said. MCC’s recent One World Series event with Tony Mendez, the former CIA agent who inspired the Academy Award-winning movie “Argo” (see related story, page 3), is a Student Engagement success story. Thanks to Dias’ efforts, five classes of criminal justice, psychology, English and communications students heard Mendez speak. “We had students enrolled in a ‘Terrorism & Homeland Security’ course in the audience, as well as ‘Basic Writing’ students,” said Dias. She recommends faculty create a course assignment around Student Engagement events, to make the experience more relevant. “The writing 4 Several classes of Criminal Justice students attended the presentation by former CIA agent Tony Mendez. faculty really love these special events,” she said. “They like having something the entire class can write about.” As the program has grown, Dias is finding that professors are working Student Engagement events into their course syllabi. “We’re planning more events in advance, and faculty members are coming up with more enriching experiences,” said Dias. “At first, I think these events were viewed as ‘add-ons’ by the faculty. Now, they are considering them important parts of their courses,” she said. “And students are feeling like this is what being a college student is all about.” • Kathy Register i For more information about Student Engagement, contact Paula Dias at diasp@middlesex.mass.edu or visit: www.middlesex.mass.edu/engagement The Institutional Student Learning Outcomes (ISLOs) represent the core abilities which MCC students acquire while studying at Middlesex. All our efforts center on helping students acquire these skills regardless of the students' degree programs. Over 200 co-curricular events and programs occur during an academic year. Most of these offer hands-on [ 10 ] opportunities for students to practice student learning outcomes and support their academic curriculum. In addition, over 35 clubs and organizations offer a distinctive learning experience where each active member will intensely practice at least four ISLOs. i For more information about upcoming events by ISLO, visit: www.middlesex.mass.edu/engagement Profiles