Q: Why is the EDGE Program required of all SUU students?
A: As an institution, SUU has articulated a set of Essential Learning Outcomes (ELOs) that represent the kinds of things all students should learn during their time at SUU. In harmony with other campus efforts, the EDGE Program is a curriculum to provide a common experience for all SUU students to help them achieve these outcomes.
The application of knowledge in a real world setting is a vital component of integrative learning and is often achieved when students obtain some level of experience related to their academic or personal interests. Experience alone is not “experiential learning,” however. The motto “Student Initiated, Faculty Supported” is at the heart of the EDGE Program and distinguishes it from traditional approaches where the faculty assign the application activity, or set the boundaries of what a student can and cannot do. In the EDGE Program, students get to make those decisions, influenced by a process which involves feedback and the establishment of self-accountability.
Also, much of the research in both education and career development indicates programs like the EDGE are what employers are looking for. Here is one example of that research in an easy to read article. http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/education/what-do-employers-really-want-college-grads#.UTZHx6_PkP8.email
Note the statement from the employer that they need graduates who know... “How you put an idea forward, and how do you support it, how do you build it, how do you put the facts behind it? All of those things are really critical." Sounds like the steps in the EDGE. Also notice the student who says “I think it’s more up to the student than the university,”
Q: I’m already a seasoned professional; what am I going to get out of the EDGE Program?
A: The EDGE Program only about gaining experience, it is about providing students the opportunity to demonstrate achievement of SUU’s Essential Learning Outcomes. This deeper level of engagement can be beneficial to any student, regardless of age or experience. Based on national “best practices” related to experiential education, The EDGE program will help even “seasoned professionals” to learn from the tasks and activities distributed through the entire program.
Q: How can my work in the EDGE Program help with employment and/or graduate school acceptance? How does it give me an advantage?
A: Hart Research Associates identified eleven key findings related to successful transition into the work place. Among these were a college graduate’s ability to demonstrate innovation in the work-place, a broad range of skills and knowledge that extend beyond a graduate’s discipline, a history of educational experiences that demonstrate civic capacity, and knowledge of cultures outside of the United States. The EDGE Program is structured in such a way as to provide opportunities for students to develop these abilities and practice articulating them.
Q: Is the EDGE Program “hard”?
A: The pedagogy and curriculum are designed to teach principles of engaged learning in a very simple, easy-to-grasp format. The EDGE program is sufficiently “rigorous” to meet the expectations of university-quality work. Most students who have completed the program embraced the opportunity to pursue a meaningful project that they designed, documented, reflected upon, and celebrated.
Q: Does the EDGE Program add time and credits to graduation?
A: No. When the three half-semester one credit EDGE classes were instituted, the University reduced the overall required classes by five credits (one full-semester, three-credit class and two one-credit classes). This included two required general education courses and one entire general education knowledge area category. So in the end there were two fewer required credits after implementation of EDGE.
Q: Does the EDGE Program cost lots of money to complete?
A: No. Though it is true some EDGE projects incur significant cost (i.e., study abroad), the vast majority of projects are completed at little to no cost. Because the student gets to choose the project they want to develop for their EDGE work, they can decide whether or not they want to do something that has a significant cost or not; it is not imposed on them. In fact, many students earn money with the EDGE project through the use of paid internships.
Q: Are there resources to help students complete EDGE projects?
A: Yes, the university provides funding to assist students in some cases; available resources can come from a variety of different areas. For example: students wishing to conduct undergraduate research can apply for funding through the Office of Undergraduate Research and Sponsored Programs (UGRASP). Students seeking assistance to study abroad can apply for need based and academic scholarships through the Sargon Heinrich Global Engagement Center. The EDGE Program itself offers EDGE Awards that may be used to retroactively cover project expenses; EDGE Awards are provided to students through an application process after their projects are complete. One of the purposes of UNIV 3925, the EDGE proposal class, is to help students who may incur costs figure out the funding for their projects before they begin. There is no expectation in any of the engagement centers that students must incur costs for a feasible EDGE project.
Q: Why do students have to take 3 classes (UNIV 1010, UNIV 3925, UNIV 4925) to complete the program?
A: The EDGE Program teaches and provides a format for students to practice the processes involved with effective project management. In today’s competitive academic and work environments, students and employees need to be innovative and possess the ability to generate original ideas and follow a proven pattern of implementation. They need to demonstrate how to propose, cultivate, refine, shape, execute, evaluate, and reflect on ideas and processes.
Q: Why can’t I use a project I’ve already completed to count as an EDGE Project?
A: The process begins with an idea and moves toward project implementation, completion, and reflection as one sustained intentional effort. It is impossible to measure that kind of a seamless process with a project that has already been completed. Moreover, our reliance on high-level theories of learning (such as the widely-used Kolb Cycle) can only work effectively with forward-looking projects that embrace planning, intentionality, and reflection.
Q: Can I use my upcoming religious mission as my EDGE Project?
A: Probably not because in order to maintain program goals, projects should be complete within 2 semesters of an accepted proposal. A lot changes in 18-24 months. Moreover, we expect students to be enrolled at SUU as they complete their approved EDGE projects, preferably within a window of one year.
Q: Is the EDGE Program a General Education Requirement?
A: No. It is, however, a university graduation requirement for all students, similar to the requirement all students have to pass a minimum of 40 upper-division credits, regardless of major.
Q: Do Transfer Students have to complete the EDGE Program?
A: Yes. All SUU students should graduate with the skills and knowledge set that comes from completing the EDGE Program. This is part of meeting the Essential Learning Outcomes of engaged learning that defines an SUU undergraduate education.
Q: Can I take UNIV 3925 and UNIV 4925 at the same time?
A: Sometimes a student can take both classes in the same semester because the courses are taught in both 8 week sessions of a semester. Some students can effectively propose a project, finish it, and have time to adequately complete the assignments for UNIV 4925, all in one semester. Though scenarios for doing this are not common, students who use alternative spring break as an EDGE Project, for example, can complete all three steps (propose, complete project, effectively reflect) in one semester.
Q: Do I need a mentor?
A: Though a relationship with a mentor is not necessary to complete and EDGE Project, it is highly encouraged. Mentors provide expertise, perspective, and feedback that can greatly enhance the quality of an EDGE Project. Faculty, community members, family, fellow students, a work supervisor, can all serve as effective mentors.
Q: Why is this program so stupid?
A: It’s not. It’s quite innovative and has been recognized by the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and the Utah Educated Person’s Conference as effective pedagogy for helping students learn the art of experiential learning. Stage Theory clearly summarizes what we have observed relative to student attitudes about the program. It’s very normal for students to reject concepts like the EDGE while in the early stages of the process. Consistent with the theory, however, is our observation that students have transformative experiences as they manage their projects and come to value the EDGE Program. In addition, students who have completed the program have, en masse, communicated the value of the EDGE Program as they reflect upon their own growth and development.
Q: What happens if I can’t complete my EDGE Project as planned or approved?
A: The EDGE Program teaches the processes of engaged learning. Throughout one’s life time, many plans fall apart and don’t materialize the way one expected. Does this mean the process failed? Not necessarily. If an individual learned from the experience and can effectively demonstrate what they learned and how they would improve their approach, then the process has worked. Failure provides some of the most viable learning and should be viewed as an important step in the learning process. We have also built into the EDGE program opportunities to switch engagement centers, to submit new proposals, and to pursue a project other than one approved initially by an engagement center.