• What Do I Want to Be When I Grow Up? Orientation to Graduate Study and Confirming Career Decisions

      Swenty, Constance; Hall, Mellisa
      Research Question/Context Do synchronous virtual orientation sessions with graduate students satisfactorily answer their questions about personal career choices? Students beginning a Master of Science in Nursing program may select from five different graduate specialties. This selection will determine their career opportunities for the remainder of their lifetime. Orienting students to their chosen specialty and fully emerging them in scenarios that emphasize their role selection is key to success in a graduate study and to career satisfaction. Grounding As discussed by Fedeli and Bierema (2019) adult learning requires attainment of knowledge management. The orientation sessions offered during the synchronous sessions focused on the end outcome: knowledge management. Transforming knowledge gained through coursework is of value only if it translates to improved career performance. The focus is not only on new knowledge, but on lifelong achievements of personal career goals. To support student engagement during virtual orientation, a portion of the schedule used gaming strategies to immerse students in understanding their career choices. Karpouzos and Yannakakis (2016) support how gaming impacts learners and promotes retention of new knowledge. Methods A Blackboard learning management site was created to direct students to the synchronous virtual sessions. Six separate sessions focused on role/specialty selection. A total of 88 students participated. Each session offered dedicated time for question/answers following initial discussions. The gaming session offered time for questions/answers after each career conundrum was presented. Students were required to consider their chosen specialty when responding to questions commonly encountered in work environments. Student feedback was obtained at the conclusion of the virtual sessions. Feedback was anonymous and only aggregate data were considered. Ninety five percent of students participating viewed the sessions as beneficial in answering their questions regarding the 42-credit hour curriculum and their chosen specialty. Discussion/Lessons Learned Student feedback from the virtual orientation sessions was overwhelmingly positive. Feedback requested included quantitative and qualitative responses. Student response rate was > 75% for the virtual sessions. Suggestions for improvement included limiting the total time frame from 1 ½ days of virtual sessions to one full day. No student requested to move the orientation to a face-to-face platform. Future plans for the orientation include reviewing data that compares student graduation rates between 1. face-to-face orientation sessions, 2. asynchronous orientation presented for viewing at any time in Blackboard, or 3. synchronous virtual sessions. Other graduate programs may be interested in adapting to the needs of adult learners by offering similar orientation sessions. To move learning to knowledge management, interactive scenarios focusing on issues faced by graduates could be considered for any discipline. Assuring students have chosen wisely before beginning graduate study will lead to student retention. References Fedeli, M. & Bierema, L.L. (2019). Connecting adult learning and knowledge management: Strategies for learning and change in higher education and organizations. Springer. Karpouzos, K. & Yannakakis, G.N. (2016). Emotional games: Theory and praxis. Springer.