Category Archives: Winter 2024 Issue 2

Career in the Classroom: Lessons Learned from Teaching ALS 114

by Brenna Gomez, Director of Career Integration, Career Development Center

Part of my role as the Director of Career Integration in the Career Development Center is to collaborate with my colleagues in the University Exploratory Studies Program (UESP) and teach ALS 114: Career Decision-Making once a year. Each time I teach the course, I make updates reflecting student need, the evolving role of AI, and more.

If you’re not familiar with Career Decision-Making, it’s a course largely for UESP students to explore majors and career paths that make the most sense for their individual goals. Students engage in lots of personal reflection about their strengths, values, and interests, while participating in career activities.

With Core Education right around the corner, many instructors and faculty are working to integrate career into existing courses or create new career courses. In this article, you’ll find some tips and tricks for thinking about career in the classroom based on my experience with ALS 114.

Share your own career path

I teach ALS: 114 on Ecampus. After my spring 2023 session, I received feedback on student evaluations that it didn’t seem like there was “enough of me as a person” in the course. As a result, I recorded personalized videos with my results from some of our career activities. Focus 2 is an interests and values assessment that gives students ideas for majors and career paths (free to use for OSU students through the Career Development Center). I have students download their results and submit them for a grade. This year, I completed the assessment myself, showed students my results in a video, and talked through the majors and career paths Focus 2 suggested, including what aligned with my personal and professional goals and what did not.  I also did this with a community map assignment, showing students who has had an influence on my life. It can feel vulnerable to share with students, and as instructors we should never share anything we aren’t comfortable with. But doing the assignments we ask them to do, and talking through our own results, can build students’ connection to me and to the course, while clearing up any questions they may have about the assignment itself. That said, these assignments are relatively short and did not take me much time to complete. That wouldn’t be true of every assignment in every course, so this may not be a realistic solution for everyone.

Yes, you do need an AI policy

In spring of 2023, I taught ALS 114 for the first time and naively believed I could avoid an AI policy because the writing assignments my students completed were mostly personal or career reflections. To me, these reflections seemed short and like it would be more work to get AI to answer them. I was reminded that we don’t know the full picture of students’ lives. If they are in a difficult period, or incredibly stressed about their future, AI can be a tempting tool that provides answers without the student having to engage in the mental process of reflection. In fall of 2023, I introduced an AI policy that largely reduced the AI usage I saw in the course. Students were allowed to use AI to help them organize their thoughts but not to draft assignments wholesale. Being transparent and communicating about AI use allows students to stay within assignment guidelines and understand instructor expectations from the start of the term

Define your preferences, especially whether you prefer a “professional tone” or an “authentic voice”

Some students were tempted to still use AI to produce a more “professional tone.” In talking with students about this, they felt a professional tone reflected higher level diction than they would consider using on their own. To them, this diction made the assignment more formal. This resulted in an excellent opportunity to discuss my bigger priority than word choice: authentic voice. I was able to speak to our reflections as informal writing with my emphasis on getting to know each student’s authentic voice. We also discussed professionalism as a skill that can be built over time and does not need to be done all at once in a single assignment by changing specific words. In other courses I teach, I’ve started giving disclaimers about how authentic voice is my priority. My hope is that by discussing authentic voice in informal reflections on the front end, students won’t feel the need to use AI to enhance their word choice.

Each time I teach this class I learn new things about my teaching practice, what I’d like to emphasize for students, and what students need to feel connected. I know I’ll continue to make changes that center students and hopefully encourage them to reflect on their lives and careers in their own authentic voices.

Support Sings with a Strengths-Based & Invitational Focus

by Woodrós Wolford

Music pumped, lights shone, people danced… And I compared the facilitation styles of the lead singers of Dropkick Murphys and Pennywise from the balcony.

At a concert in Portland, Ore. last weekend, I found myself thinking about how nervous systems are impacted by invitational facilitation practices in a Moda Center crowd much like they are in a one-on-one interaction. The lead singer of Dropkick Murphys was exceptionally skilled at inviting the audience to participate and bringing out positive energy. He remained warm and good-humored even when discouraging–or breaking up!–fights.

Watching him, I thought, “Wow, what great classroom management! …I mean, concert management. But wow, so firm and kind and fun, all at once, avoiding power struggles and matching his words with his pitch and stance! And look how clearly and simply he articulated his inclusivity – unlike the really vague statements the Pennywise leader proclaimed grandly a few songs ago. Lots to learn here!”

Two years ago, I believe that I would still have noticed the contrast between the approaches of the two band leaders. (Pennywise’s leader ordered and then nagged the audience to participate rather than offering the encouragement and reinforcement like the lead singer of Dropkick Murphys. The first approach left my friend glaring with her arms crossed, defiant to being told to participate; the second allowed her to choose whether she opted in or not without feeling that resistance and annoyance.)  After all, I was a middle school teacher for years and a facilitator for over a decade! Now, however, I look at the difference between the two with a lens grounded in nervous system awareness and focused on invitational and strengths-based engagement.

Academic Coaching, SE, and Me

My understanding of invitational and strengths-based facilitation and awareness of nervous systems have been deepened through my experience as the Academic Coaching Coordinator for the Academic Success Center and also through the intensive Somatic Experiencing training sessions I’ve done over the past year. With that training, I have the dual goal of becoming a somatic experiencing practitioner (after two more years!) and utilizing the nervous-system-grounded lessons I learn there to support the efficacy of Academic Coaching and peer education at OSU more broadly. I’m excited (and nervous) to start sharing some of what I’m learning with you in this “opening act” you’re kindly reading now.

As I understand it, Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a healing modality based on activating the body’s and nervous system’s innate healing capacity. This is done by working with someone in an invitational and tailored way, while also providing tools, menus, and an overall structure. Academic Coaching is appointment-based, invitational, holistic, and person-centered, and these are traits that are shared with SE. Both are also one-on-one sessions (typically, although lessons & skills can be applied to groups!) In my role as coordinator, attending the SE training has allowed me to see why some elements of our long-lived, well-tested peer coaching model are so effective, and we’ve been able to prioritize those strengths to make a great program even better. We believe it’s especially important, post-COVID closures, to increase how welcoming, nervous-system-friendly, and inclusive Academic Coaching is…and I thought that some of my “lessons learned” might help highlight the strengths of others’ models of student support, too!

The thesis here is that we need access to our full brains in order to access our prior knowledge, think creatively, problem solve, etc. When a stress response is active, we have less access to those “higher brain” functions – and that can be because we’re having an off day, because we’re out of practice after being isolated in the pandemic, because of stereotype threat, because of overstimulation, because it’s an unfamiliar space… A plethora of reasons! Asking for help and doing new things is hard and takes a lot of capacity!

Moves We Can Make

So, what are some of the moves we can make?

We can practice curiosity about and make space for the other person’s knowledge to unfurl, using an invitational and strengths-based approach and creating spaces supportive of nervous systems.

To do that, I had to unlearn the way my brain responded to help-seeking. Even though I sought to approach teaching in a student-centered, strengths-based, and accommodating way, I didn’t live up to my goals and values. My mind immediately started looking for solutions to a question and, when I asked questions to help the person find a solution, I automatically generated questions that guided that person towards specific information or solutions. I knew that wasn’t great for critical thinking, but there wasn’t capacity to work on changing it.

Stay Curious & Make Space

However, for coaching and somatic experiencing, changing these habits was central. The other person has a huge dataset of their own lived experiences that I could never hope to understand fully, so the goal is to be truly curious and create space for the other person to notice and work with the data they already have: data from their own nervous system, lived experiences, meaning-making, and more.

Interrupt Automatic Responses

To make room for the others’ thinking and stay curious, we work to check our automatic assumptions and responses in our coaching model, replacing thosewith non-judgment, questions to understand and to prompt thinking, and affirmations and validations of what the student is sharing. While I worked (a lot!) on my implicit biases as a teacher, a large group setting is a difficult one for slowing down, asking questions, reflecting back what you’re hearing, and pointing out the fabulousness of the person’s learning journey. (While the Dropkick Murphys band leader did ask questions of the audience, they had to be close-ended, shorter response questions, not the open-ended ones to stimulate deepen thinking – similarly, he could praise the audience and I could praise middle school students, but not with the specificity possible in a one-on-one conversation organized to explore the other person’s knowledge and strengths.)

Center Their Strengths & Self-Knowledge

Matching the conversation to the rhythm of the person who is seeking to improve or finetune their time management or goal setting and centering that person’s self-knowledge and strengths (even when they might be reluctant initially to recognize those) is helpful for nervous system regulation and deep thinking. (Neither of which is the goal of a concert!) All too commonly, we don’t feel like we have time to connect like this or we get caught in the patterns and “autocomplete” functions of our own minds, so, typically, the coaching model requires building new skills or even – as in my case – unlearning habits for supporting others we already use. Because Academic Coaching is a 45 minute conversation in a quiet place, it’s easier to intentionally rewrite those habits there than in, say, a boisterous middle school classroom or a Moda Center concert.

Consider Options & Vibe in the Space

In Academic Coaching (and in the Academic Success Center’s drop-in space), we seek to be responsive and holistic, as well, offering Zoom as well as in-person appointments, a quieter space for the conversations, fidget toys, plants (biophilic design for the win!), and now have added gentler and more flexible lighting, tea, snacks, and art. We’ve also work on menus of grounding tools for ourselves and to share with those we work with (we’re even making a worksheet!) Academic support is by necessity more cerebral than SE practices intended to restore nervous system capacity, but we’re working to enhance our holistic approach and build out our skills.

The approaches described above all align with the way SE works, which is also based heavily on the person’s strengths and self-knowledge while also (like Academic Coaching) providing tools, practices, and pathways to shift patterns that aren’t working for the person. In SE, too, we are aware of how the physical space’s arrangement can impact someone’s experience and seek to provide options to meet folks’ sensory and psychological safety needs as they engage in growing their tools and capacity.

Offer Invitations & Choices

In both practices, we are invitational, providing genuine choices to the fabulous fellow humans we’re working with and offering example language and options when that’s helpful. In both practices, we believe that this person who we get to hold space for is Naturally Creative, Resourceful, and Whole. (As the International Coaching Federation says, read more here if you’d like!) Both in Academic Coaching and in somatic modalities, the goal is to help someone help themselves. Both are about helping people connect to their own strengths and wisdom, and to build on that.


The lead singer of Dropkick Murphys brings a level of energy and passion to his concert facilitation that I hope to emulate in my work as an Academic Coach and in my practice of somatic healing modalities. I have found these disciplines to be transformational for myself personally and for folks I have gotten to work with, much like the energy in the Moda Center was transformed when Dropkick Murphys took the stage. If you’re interested in connecting about any of this, I’d be thrilled to hear from you on Teams (email is also fine!) or in the physical or Zoom realms if we cross paths! Of course, if you’re intrigued, you can also tune in for the next “act” in this Somatic Experiencing, Academic Coaching, and Peer Education exploration!

Yours, Mine, and Ours: Facilitating Conversations about Boundaries in the Workplace

by Anna Bentley

In my role in the Office of Academic Support, I supervise the ASC Strategists and work with a team of pro staff to deliver weekly professional development meetings to our Academic Coaches, Strategists, and Outreach Specialists, who are student employees. When I talked to my colleagues and student employees about the areas in which they wanted to grow professionally, many of their ideas essentially involved developing skills to better communicate boundaries with students who use our services, their colleagues, and their supervisor.

I came across an awesome book, Unf*ck Your Boundaries: Build Better Relationships Through Consent, Communication, and Expressing Your Needs by Dr. Faith G. Harper and was immediately inspired to design professional development meetings around the concepts and strategies in this book. Having clear boundaries in the workplace can give everyone a better experience working together by clarifying our responsibilities and scope of our work, increasing self-awareness, helping prevent burnout, cultivating relationships and mutual respect, repairing relationships after rupture, and more.

I designed two meetings for our student staff. The first centered around defining boundaries where we discussed what boundaries are, the types of boundaries, how boundaries are defined, and an invitation to reflect on what we want instead of what we don’t want. The second meeting focused on communicating boundaries, including communication styles, how to express what we want, and communicating through conflict. In both meetings, there were opportunities for individual reflection, small group conversation, and group sharing so participants could learn from each other.

After all of our weekly meetings, we collect evaluation forms to get a sense of what our student employees thought of the topic and activities. When asked “What information and/or strategies from today’s meeting will you use in your role?”, half of the participants said they will use the BIFF method (brief, informative, friendly, and firm) and avoid the 3 A’s (advice, admonishments, apologies) when they are trying to communicate through conflict. Several participants also mentioned how they appreciated example language for communicating clear boundaries. In a separate post-term survey, most participants listed one or both of the meetings about boundaries as one of their top 3 meetings of the term.

If any of this sparks your interest, I’m sharing both agendas with you in case you want to check them out and adapt them for your own teams. Or maybe you are curious and want to look at the prompts for your own personal and professional development. All the concepts and many of the prompts are taken directly from the book I’ve linked above, which also has an accompanying workbook. I hope you enjoy! And if you have any feedback or want to chat more about this topic, I’d love to hear from you at

Fall Student Survey Results – A Sneak Preview

by Clare Creighton

Each fall, our Fall Student Survey team works with campus partners to develop a survey administered to all undergraduate Corvallis-based students. This effort began in April 2020 when we wanted to understand how the remote learning and pandemic conditions were impacting students. Over time, the survey has evolved to help us get a general pulse of the student experience and timely information on a few key topical areas relevant to OSU initiatives and efforts.

For Fall 2023, the survey was opened on October 23, ran for approximately two weeks, and closed on November 9, 2023.

This year we asked questions in a few key blocks:

  • General overview questions that ask students about how they’re doing, their level of concern with different elements of the student experience, and their perception of their success this term.
  • A block of questions about their experience with on-campus and off-campus work/employment (hours, goals, desires)
  • A block of questions about the email communication students receive from OSU was devised in consultation with the Beaver Hub implementation team to gauge the impact of Beaver Hub on how students experience communication from OSU.
  • A block of questions about perceptions of generative artificial intelligence (AI) and its role in students’ academic experiences.
  • Results from the full survey will be presented at an upcoming FYI Friday presentation on March 8, 2024 (via Zoom). Registration for that event is online (OSU Login). Following the presentation, the report will be released in a Box folder to internal OSU audiences.

    The Final Question

    In anticipation of that, however, I wanted to share a bit about my experience coding the final question “What else should we ask about”? Because this is an open-ended question, students can use this space in a number of ways. Here are a few trends, along with some insights those trends offer for future survey construction.

    First, many of the respondents provided example topics on which they’d like us to ask questions. This was valuable data that showed us some of the issues important to students. Additionally, some of the topics were particularly grounded in the timing of the survey (e.g. referencing October safety announcements).  These results provided a useful reminder to ground interpretation within the context of when the survey was run and cues us to keep timing and current context in mind when drafting surveys and evaluating the results.

    Second, a number of respondents used the open-ended question to provide answers for the questions they wish we had asked. While it’s challenging to code responses for essentially a “wild-card” question, we gathered insights from a range of topics we might not have thought to ask on a survey of this scale. Quite a few students wanted to give input on programs, services, or other ways they experienced OSU. I appreciate noting for myself that students are interested in opportunities to provide feedback on programs and services and recognized that they may not always be clear on where they have opportunities to do so outside of this survey – an area we can improve on locally within each program and more broadly across the OSU experience.

    Third, some students gave feedback on the survey itself or indicated places of confusion with the available responses. There were a few places where questions or answer choices that make sense to us, did not fit the wide array of choices students need/want. In the next round of the survey, we can take into account student perspective more fully by planning time for student review of the format, options, and wording prior to the survey launch.

    I hope you’ll join us for the FYI Friday session to learn more about how student perspectives are shaping our understanding of the student experience. For questions about the Fall Student Survey effort, contact Maureen Cochran, Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives and Assessment, Division of Student Affairs.

What Are OSU Colleagues Reading?

We asked colleagues, “What have you read that has informed your work or resonated for you, and why? This can be reading in any form (e.g., books, articles, videos, podcasts, audiobooks, etc.).” Perhaps you’ll find a spring break read, book club pick, or potential lunch conversation option in what OSU colleagues have shared here.

And, if you would like to contribute to “What Are OSU Colleagues Reading?,” please complete this brief form to submit your entry! We’d love to feature what you’re reading in an upcoming issue.

Laurie Bridges, Instruction and Digital Initiatives Librarian, Oregon State University Libraries and Press

Recently, I listened to the memoir The Worlds I See (Valley Library print) by world-famous computer scientist Dr. Fei-Fei Li. I started the book to learn more about artificial intelligence, but what I enjoyed the most was Dr. Li’s story of immigration from China to the U.S. as a child. In the U.S., her small family lived in financial precariousness while she attended public school in New Jersey, learned English, and embraced a passion for physics.

Amy Frasieur, Director of Health Equity and Wellness, Student Affairs

Finding Our Way Podcast is hosted by teacher, somatics practitioner, and movement facilitator Prentis Hemphill. It is a conversation between Prentis and powerful social justice leaders, artists, and activists – discussing how to realize the world we want through our own healing and transformation. I listened to all 3 seasons as they were released and recently found myself returning to the podcast for a second listen. The conversations are beautiful and powerful and keep me curious about ways I can continue to learn and grow in both my work and community.

Chrysanthemum Hayes, Director of Decision Support, University Information and Technology

I recently finished Patrick Lencioni’s The 6 Types of Working Genius (Valley Library Print), recommended to me by our CIO, Andrea Ballinger. What resonated with me the most is that if you are working outside your “geniuses” (e.g. the energy-giving types of work activities), things will feel hard, draining, and not showcase your best potential for the organization. Finding a great fit in an organization can be helped by thinking about what type of work they are doing relative to a person’s “geniuses” and “frustrations.” I found this framework to be a helpful additional dimension on top of strengths and personality assessment results.

Nicole Hindes, Director of the Basic Needs Center, Student Affairs

Scarcity: the New Science of Having Less and How it Defines our Lives (Valley Library Print) by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Sharif delves into the tunnel vision and limited decision-making bandwidth created by conditions of scarcity. The book suggests designing systems to support those facing scarcity, such as implementing time management workshops for busy students. By optimizing time use, like incorporating workshops into training schedules or class time, educational institutions can enhance students’ decision-making capacity around the use of time, offering them the necessary “bandwidth” to navigate time scarcity more effectively.