Supporting Student Employee Professional Development
At Western Washington University, student employees play an integral role in helping the Libraries fulfill its teaching and learning mission. Whether through providing research and writing assistance in the Hacherl Research & Writing Studio, dialogue facilitation in the Teaching-Learning Academy (TLA), or by sharing their energy, expertise, and insights in the day-to-day activities that help the Libraries function effectively, the contributions and dedication of library student employees are essential to the successful advancement of Western Libraries' mission.
In addition to their daily work, some students also engage in professional development and research activities, which may include presentations at national and international conferences. For example, as part of their first year as assistants in the Hacherl Research & Writing Studio, student employees develop a research topic related to Studio scholarship and practice, which they later share in the form of “legacy projects.” They may also choose to submit their work as proposals for conference presentations.
Last fall, sixteen Studio student assistants attended the National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing (NCPTW). Of those sixteen, fifteen students gave presentations where they spoke about their research and the results of their legacy projects with conference attendees.
“Studio assistants tell us that the seminar and the opportunity to design and present a research project to a broader community of practice has a huge impact on their academic and professional skills and lives,” explained Pippa Hemsley, Assistant Director of the Hacherl Research & Writing Studio. While an undergraduate student at Western, Hemsley was herself a student assistant in the former Writing Center.
Last fall, two additional library student employees presented at a different conference, the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL), held in Los Angeles, California. Autumn Simmons and Nathan Romond, (who both work for the TLA), gave a joint presentation about the use of dialogue and the practice of intentionally flattening hierarchies to eliminate barriers in teaching and learning.
“Autumn and I were able to present our work to an audience of international scholars, many of whom were faculty,” explained Romond. He noted that their presentation embodied what they were speaking about, “underscoring the idea that students can engage more personally and deeply with work when operating in an environment that incorporates a flattened hierarchy among students and faculty.”
Both Simmons and Romond described their time at ISSoTL as one of the most memorable and significant experiences of their undergraduate education.
“As an undergraduate, the ability to meet with so many academic professionals and share work being done felt like a privilege,” stated Simmons. “This sharing of knowledge, and the connections made along the way is what makes this conference so special and necessary in order to maximize the benefits of higher education.”
Western Libraries relies on the generosity of its donors to make these life-changing opportunities possible. Philanthropic gifts help support library student employees by funding registration fees, travel expenses, and other associated costs of participating in conferences and other research opportunities that advance the libraries' teaching and learning mission"
If you would like to help, please consider contributing to the Western Libraries Student Employee Opportunity Fund. And a special thank you goes out to everyone who has already contributed to this fund , whether on WWU Give Day or now!