DegreePlus Information for Faculty and Staff

DegreePlus is uniquely designed as a holistic approach that incorporates the entire campus, not just faculty and students. It is a call to action for the entire community to help students find extracurricular experiences that enable them develop the transferable skills they need to be successful beyond their years at Western Carolina.

FAQ

Does DegreePlus provide any benefits to faculty, staff or academic programs?

  • DegreePlus is a pathway for skill development that complements course-based learning. There is good potential for cross-disciplinary collaboration. Activities offered from external disciplines may be useful in satisfying program goals for your department that are difficult to meet within your program.
  • Due to incentivized participation and marketing, faculty and staff may have higher attendance for their events qualified to be DegreePlus.
  • Since attendance is tracked and students are reflecting on their experiences, DegreePlus can be used as a program assessment tool.
  • Tracking student engagement in activities will help academic programs learn what their majors are interested in and assist staff to identify which programs students will attend. This information can be used to enhance those activities and also generate additional experiences that are attractive to students.

Will I have to do more work?

DegreePlus is designed to initially capitalize on existing campus activities and events. For example, a speaker series related to professional development in a discipline could qualify for a Professionalism event, the annual International Festival could be an enjoyable way for students to develop the Cultural Responsiveness skill, and a service learning trip can be used to teach the Teamwork skill. Faculty and staff are encouraged to examine their current extracurricular offerings to see if these satisfy one or more of the designated student learning outcomes for a DegreePlus skill. Over time they might want to create new events that advance programmatic goals for the department and concurrently meet DegreePlus criteria.

Faculty and staff who want to be more actively involved may apply to be a DegreePlus paid mentor and assess student reflections and capstone presentations.

How will we track student participation in events?

WCU currently uses OrgSync to manage student organizations and events. A new add-on will be utilized to track student attendance with handheld scanners that connect the student's CATCard ID with the individual event. In the near future OrgSync is migrating to another product which will streamline data collection.

how does degreeplus work?

DegreePlus is a voluntary three-level program. Students advance through one to three levels with incentives for completion at each level. 2017-18 is a pilot year in which only the Professionalism Skill will be the focus. Beginning in Fall 2018, all four skills will be available (Leadership, Cultural Responsiveness, Teamwork, Professionalism).

Level 1 - Experience and Exposure
Students attend five DegreePlus events of their choice in one skill.
Level 2 - Reflection & Articulation
Students who have completed Level 1 attend DegreePlus Day in the Spring Semester. Trained faculty and staff mentors will lead small group discussions to enable students to reflect on what they learned about the skill. Following the event, students will articulate what they learned in a reflection paper which the mentor will evaluate as pass/fail. Students who pass will have completed Level 2. Students who do not pass will be given feedback and another opportunity to resubmit the paper.
Level 3 - Integration & Application
A "call for papers" will be sent to students who have completed Level 2. Students who respond will choose a curricular, co-curricular or extracurricular experience which exemplifies the application and integration of the skill. Students will be allowed to "double-dip" this experience with other projects, research, internships, etc. in which they are already engaged for their academic degrees. On DegreePlus Day they will deliver a poster, video, or other creative presentation about this capstone experience. This will complete Level 3 of the skill.

how can i be involved?

Faculty and staff involvement is essential to the success of DegreePlus! The following are ways in which faculty and staff can bolster student interest and participation or become more directly involved in the DegreePlus program:

Faculty: Get Your Students Involved

  • Offer extra credit to students who attend DegreePlus events
  • Incorporate DegreePlus and its goals into your syllabus
  • Show the brief DegreePlus video to your class and discuss the benefits of the program
  • Invite the Associate Director of DegreePlus to speak to your class about DegreePlus
  • Talk to your students about DegreePlus in your advising sessions

Faculty & Staff: Host an Activity

  • You don't have to reinvent the wheel! Take a look at the activities and events you already offer. Do they fit the criteria for DegreePlus designation? If not, can they be modified without disrupting the nature of the event?
  • Create a new fun and educational event to communicate one or more DegreePlus student learning outcomes
  • The criteria can be found on this web page under the section What are the Criteria for the Event to be Designated as DegreePlus?

Faculty & Staff: Become a Paid DegreePlus Mentor

Information about DegreePlus mentoring is in the next section. 

What is a degreeplus mentor and how do I become one?

DegreePlus mentors are faculty and exempt staff who receive training to guide students through Level 2 (Articulation & Reflection) and Level 3 (Integration & Application). The stipend is $500 for one academic year. To determine the time commitment, please use the following list of responsibilities as a guide. 

Responsibilities of DegreePlus mentors

  • Attend two mandatory trainings given by Coulter Faculty Commons (October/March)
  • Attend DegreePlus Day in the Spring Semester and guide a roundtable discussion with students who have reached Level 2 to:
    • think critically about what they learned in the DegreePlus events
    • connect the learning outcomes to each skill
    • connect what they learned to their own academic or career goals
  • Evaluate the written reflections the students submit after the event as Pass/Fail based on a predetermined rubric
  • Meet with students who could not attend DegreePlus Day in a makeup session and evaluate their written reflections
  • Assess the capstone project presentations given by Level 3 students at DegreePlus Day

How to Apply

A call for mentors will be made in September. Faculty and exempt staff are eligible to apply.

wHERE CAN I FIND THE STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES FOR THE DEGREEPLUS SKILLS?

Listed below are the rubrics for the four skills. Each skill has five student learning outcomes. To be designated as a DegreePlus event for a skill, the activity must intentionally address one or more of the student learning outcomes for that skill. The rubrics also guide assessment of the Level 2 reflection papers and Level 3 capstone projects by a DegreePlus mentor.

Leadership Rubric
Cultural Responsiveness Rubric
Teamwork Rubric
Professionalism Rubric 

where can i find the degreeplus activities/ events?

An interactive calendar is being developed for the DegreePlus website. Until it goes live, faculty and staff may request a calendar of DegreePlus events from Marti Newbold, Associate Director of DegreePlus at hmnewbold@wcu.edu. However, students are directed to join DegreePlus through OrgSync where they will find event details, register for events with limited space, and manage their experiential transcripts. Directions for how to join DegreePlus are in the section How Do Students Register for DegreePlus? on this web page.

what are the criteria for the event to be Designated as degreeplus?

To be designated as a DegreePlus activity or event the program must meet the following criteria:

  • Address at least one or more Student Learning Outcomes for one of the DegreePlus skills (Leadership, Cultural Responsiveness, Leadership, Teamwork)
  • Be open for participation to all WCU students or another large student group (It's OK to have a cap on attendance)
  • Be extracurricular in nature
 

how do i SUBMIT MY EVENT TO BE DEGREEPLUS?

To have your event designated as a DegreePlus event, please contact Marti Newbold, Associate Director of DegreePlus, at hmnewbold@wcu.edu or call 828-277-3884. You will be sent a link to a fillable form. When approved, your event will automatically be included in the DegreePlus calendar. 

how DO students register for degreeplus?

DegreePlus is a self-paced program. Students may register at any time through OrgSync, though they are encouraged to get involved during their first year at WCU. At the DegreePlus site on OrgSync they will be able to see the list of approved DegreePlus events and begin an experiential transcript.
Please note: If students do not have OrgSync accounts, directions for how to create an account are found in the downloadable form How to Join DegreePlus . They can also find directions at DegreePlus Info for Students on the DegreePlus website under the section How Do I Sign Up for DegreePlus and When May I Start?

what are the benefits for students who participate in the program?

Students who participate in DegreePlus are likely to receive the following benefits:

  • Acquisition of skills that can strengthen their applications for employment, graduate and professional schools
  • Meaningful engagement in the WCU community outside the classroom setting
  • Transferable skills which can be utilized in jobs and volunteer service throughout their lives
  • Skill development that will enhance their personal interactions as well as professional development
  • The ability to reflect and articulate what they have learned about important transferable skills
  • An experiential transcript which can enhance their resumes, applications for fellowships, grants, graduate and professional schools and provide a document for reference when requesting faculty and staff letters of recommendation
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