A major packed with integrated study and high-impact practices

Education as a field is not confined to teaching in a classroom. In fact, Hiram College offers a program designed specifically for students who wish to gain a background in education, but want to work in a variety of settings, many of which are outside the traditional classroom. Educational studies is a distinctive major that teaches students about educational institutions, educational processes, and the social and cultural factors that affect them.

Starting off, students take a core set of classes that prepares them to implement the best education practices for their chosen setting. Through these courses, they learn about development, pedagogy, and collaboration, and through internships and senior seminar research, they are challenged to bring this together with interdisciplinary content that prepares them for future careers. With the guidance of a faculty advisor, students also design an area of concentration, or a “build your own” component of the major. Through a unique foundation, students are immersed in 20 hours of interdisciplinary coursework that is directly tailored to their career goals.

“Educational studies is a rigorous major that is tailored to the student, but also heavily supported by the faculty in the department,” said Jennifer McCreight, director of the School of Education, Civic Leadership and Social Change. “We (faculty) want to be there for them, in true Hiram fashion, every step of the way.”

Often during the fall semester of senior year, students complete a required internship to ensure they have experience in the setting they wish to pursue — an experiential learning opportunity that is one of the four elements of The New Liberal Arts™ model. Faculty engage in conversations with students and place them in internships to guarantee a high-impact experience.

“Internships are critical to the educational studies major because it’s where the rubber meets the road – where theory meets practice. This is the place in which students are able to use, analyze, and evaluate all they’ve been learning in the context of their future careers,” said McCreight.

Using mindful technology to teach and learn

Faculty in the education department began incorporating the use of technology into the classroom even before the days of Tech and Trek™, however the 1:1 Apple mobile program now ensures that students have access to the same platforms and are able to work collaboratively.

Not only are educational studies students using technology to consume information, like watching a video, downloading a presentation, or reading an article, but also to be creators of content, allowing them to show what they are learning in interesting ways.

“When students take pedagogy—the class on teaching—they use their iPads to create lessons for those they are working with and to enhance the learning of those they are teaching,” said McCreight.

Even though McCreight is a strong proponent of using technology to enhance the educational experience, she also believes that using it mindfully is all about creating a balance. Forcing her students to put away the iPads and engage in discussion with classmates is one way she creates that balance.

Finding a personal calling

For students like Alyssa (Lobaugh) Foster ’14 (pictured at right), life after graduation seemed unknown. Starting out as an education major with a focus in middle school education, Foster made the change to educational studies to focus on a career in higher education. It wasn’t until she was immersed in experiential activities that she found her personal calling.

Exposure to a broad array of subjects through her area of concentration allowed Foster to learn about different positions and departments available in higher education and to identify her passion. To gain a well-rounded understating of different types of institutions, Foster then completed three internships: one at a private liberal arts college, another at a faith-based institution, and one at a state school.

“The program led to self-discovery and made me a well-rounded individual with a wide array of skills and valuable experiences. It gave me real-life, hands-on experiences. And now, those experiences provide a personal base that gives me confidence to build on and to be able to deal with a world that seems increasingly turbulent and requires a broad base of experiences to be able to navigate,” said Foster.

Currently a Hall Director at the Ohio State University, Foster is applying the 21st-century skill set and mindset she mastered during her undergraduate degree in her current position, guiding and educating students with the same calm demeanor and confident leadership that she received as a ‘turbulent’ student, unsure about the future.

After Hiram, educational studies graduates seek education careers or pursue further education in areas such as:

  • school counselor
  • community outreach coordinator
  • college admissions counselor
  • residence hall director
  • educational policy analyst
  • lobbyist
  • curriculum developer
  • career services specialist
  • after-school education coordinator
  • corporate trainer
  • camp director
  • zoo education specialist
  • music educator
  • art therapist
  • Museum engagement manager (or program director)
  • Peace Corps volunteer

Learn more about educational studies at Hiram College.

by Jenelle Bayus

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