The School of Continuing Studies stands out among peer institutions with its professional program offerings that develop students’ skillsets and foster creative thinking. The new facilitation concentration — aimed at current facilitators, leadership coaches and human resource professionals — provides facilitation training to students through classroom instruction, reading and reflection and furthers this excellence. Undergraduate students, who are extensively involved in many types of leadership positions, would also benefit from training, and the administration should implement a redesigned version of the concentration to undergraduates to impart facilitation skills — like knowing how to engage others to think, act and speak in new, better ways — to students.
For a school that prides itself on open dialogue, student leadership and student-led facilitation, there is significant value in applying a changed version of this course at the undergraduate level. Students in the course could learn applicable facilitation skills like active listening and encourage thoughtful and deep discussion.
The model offered at the SCS can be altered to suit the needs of undergraduate students, who have tighter schedules and for whom facilitation takes place outside of an office setting. Facilitation is best developed through practice and direct interaction with peers. With this in mind, an undergraduate version of what is offered in the School of Continuing Studies should plan for daylong facilitation training workshops, rather than semesterlong course work.
As it stands, this SCS certificate program will meet for three three-day seminars spread across the spring semester, along with supplemental online coursework throughout the semester. A better format for undergraduates would be instead to learn in daylong condensed workshops that emulate real-life situations in which these skills would be required. This would make the program more effective and accessible to busy students. The administration must keep in mind that the main consumers of its programs are busy students involved in a plentitude of leadership positions, and they would be better served in a more condensed, effective workshop session, instead of a semesterlong time commitment.
Having appropriately changed the SCS facilitation program to fit undergraduate students’ needs, these workshops should be offered to undergraduate students interested in improving their facilitation strategies. As long as the format of the course is changed to reflect a more condensed, practice-based methodology, all students who aspire to a position of leadership would do well to take the course.