We created Iowa GROW® in 2009 and have since implemented it across the Division of Student Life (view our timeline). Supervisors in the Division are expected to have two Iowa GROW® conversations (individual or small group format) with student employees each semester. Our data, collected yearly, continue to show tremendous benefits for students who participate in work-academic connection conversations with their supervisors.
Highlights of our findings:
- Iowa GROW® participants were more likely to agree/strongly agree that their job was helping them attain the nine outcomes of student employment.
- Iowa GROW® participants were more likely to report that their student employment helped them gain work and career related skills, form relationships, improve their time management skills, and enhance their communication skills.
- Non-GROW participants were more likely to report that the major benefit of being a student employee was simply earning money.
- Iowa GROW® participants were more likely to report that they gain problem solving abilities, communication skills, and general work habits as a student employee
- Non-GROW participants were more likely to report that they learned no new skills as a result of being a student employee
- Students who perceived the conversation as a work-academic connection conversation received the benefits of IOWA GROW®, reinforcing the need to be explicit about Iowa GROW® conversations.
View the 2018 Iowa GROW® summary for a more detailed report of our findings.
View the data from past Iowa GROW® surveys:
Integrating Iowa GROW® into Our Culture
Iowa GROW® conversations are new for some supervisors, while others have been having work-academic conversations with their students all along. Iowa GROW® helps to provide additional structure to something that many supervisors already do and helpful support for supervisors newer to work-academic conversations. Within the Division of Student Life, we have also made additional changes to focus on student employment as a learning activity:
- Many student employee job descriptions and recruitment materials now include “what you will learn” language in addition to a list of job duties.
- Orientations for new student employees introduce Iowa GROW® as a part of our Division culture – evidence that we truly care about what students are doing on the job, but even more, what they are learning on the job.
- Performance appraisal instruments for permanent staff members across the Division include compliance with Iowa GROW® as a performance expectation.
Culture change takes time, and we have learned a lot through our Iowa GROW® process. This website is a way to share lessons learned with other campuses. Visit the Implementation page for detailed information on implementing Iowa GROW®. Feel free to email us for additional help or consultation on implementing Iowa GROW® on your campus.
Examples from the Division of Student Life
Student Life Marketing + Design
Marketing students at M+D learn how to manage time, manage projects, communicate with many different kinds of people in order to produce professional-level communications work.
University Housing & Dining
University of Iowa dining employees gain a good work ethic, time management skills, and supervisory experience.