Impact of Previous DO-IT Project Results on Current Results
DO-IT staff consider the outcomes of previous STEM/transition/college preparation activities in selecting those for current projects. In response to the success of previois experiences, they look for opportunities to sponsor college transition activities to help students transition from high school to college, community college to four-year school, undergraduate to graduate school, college to career, and graduate school to the professoriate. They offer both activities that are short and motivational in nature and workshops that are longer and have significant academic content. Together, in these activities students with disabilities learn about college and career opportunities; role-play on working with faculty and employers; practice self-advocacy skills; explore options for internships during college studies and jobs and graduate programs after college; meet professionals, including those with disabilities, in their fields of interest; interact with peers and mentors; and are invited to participate in an e-mentoring community, internships, and other project activities. Earlier outcomes were also considered as e-mentoring communities are developed. In an e-mentoring community, staff and volunteer mentors:
- facilitate conversations about career opportunities and encourage, advise, and assist students with transition between academic levels and from school to work;
- help proteges develop self-advocacy skills; positive identity; and a sense of belonging;
- help students identify fields of interest, college funding sources, and steps toward careers;
- offer students with opportunities for leadership development (e.g., by participating on a panel in a program for faculty) and encourage them to participate DO-IT college/career programs, internships, tutoring, and other activities;
- encourage participation in other existing programs - e.g., events on campus, in the community, and through programs that encourage participation of women and racial/ethnic minorities in STEM fields; and
- encourage students to utilize campus study skills, writing, and other academic support services.
Project staff consider previous experiences and outcomes in fine-tuning its internship and other work-based learning activities as well. They offer research and industry internships to secondary and postsecondary students with disabilities and work with each supervisor, career center staff (when appropriate), and student to identify appropriate accommodations. This interaction is designed to both improve the participant's opportunity for success and strengthen institutional and employer capacity to work successfully with individuals with disabilities. Project staff also recruit employers and faculty to offer job shadows, field trips, internships, research experiences, and other work-based activities. In all of these efforts, project staff strive to achieve the successful work-based learning program characteristics identified by Luecking & Gramlich (2003) in their review of research and practice. These are:
- Clear program goals;
- Clear roles and responsibilities for worksite supervisors, mentors, teachers, support personnel, and other partners;
- Training plans that specify learning goals tailored to individual students with specific outcomes connected to student learning;
- Convenient links between students, schools, and employers;
- On-the-job learning;
- Range of work-based learning opportunities, especially those outside traditional youth employing industries (e.g., restaurants);
- Mentor(s) at the worksite;
- Clear expectations and feedback to assess progress toward achieving goals;
- Assessments to identify skills, interests, and support needs at the worksite;
- Reinforcement of work-based learning outside of work; and
- Appropriate academic, social, and administrative support for students, employers, and all partners.
Reference: Luecking, R., & Gramlich, M. (2003). Quality work-based learning and postschool employment success. National Center on Secondary Education and Transition Issue Brief, 2(2).