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Engage PLUS Criteria

General Criteria

All engaged learning activities must meet the following criteria:

  • A minimum of 80 hours of an extensive immersive experience, which provides students with learning opportunities through “active” participation;
  • Direct supervision by an appropriate mentor or supervisor;
  • Evidence that learning expands general knowledge or develops new knowledge;
  • Evidence of knowledge integration and/or direct application of classroom knowledge to “real world” problems and may include increased awareness of personal and social responsibility; development of critical thinking skills, and creative intellection.
  • An intentional learning and reflective experience, which includes a culminating synthesis of knowledge gained and/or personal or professional impact (e.g., reflective journal, ePortfolio, performance, paper, etc.)

Category-Specific Criteria

Co-curricular engagement experiences will be classified based on six unique categories: Artistry, Career Related Work Experiences, Experiential Learning, Leadership, Service-Learning, and Undergraduate Research.  Each unique category will include an additional set of guidelines.  Engaged learning activities are intended to promote the integration of learning and the expansion of knowledge outside of the classroom.  It is expected that engaged learning experiences also include some type of reflection or culminating experience that provides proof of learning.  Each approved activity must meet the established criteria.  The criteria for each identified category include:

Artistry

If you are creative and have a passion for artistic expression through theater, music, art or any other form of creative endeavor, this may be the right category for you to choose.  Artistry projects may include things like producing or directing a performance, extensive engagement in an artistic showcase in music, painting, photography, etc., or coordinating a community art event that allows others to showcase their talents.  

  1. Engagement in a non-credit bearing artistry experience, which must occur under the close guidance of a qualified mentor.
  2. Engagement in an artistry experience, which leads to the creation of a new work and/or development of personal voice/pedagogy/technical mastery in the arts.
  3. Engagement in an artistry experience, which focuses on art as process or product.
  4. Engagement in an artistry experience, which must be aligned with one of the eight Baccalaureate learning outcomes.

Career Related Work Experience

Career Related Work Experiences provide direct experience in a work setting whereby you are able to gain hands-on experience and develop essential professional skills.  Career related work experiences can include internships, clinical work, practicum or clinical work. 

  1. Engagement in a non-credit bearing internship, co-op, practical or clinical experience which requires students to complete a minimum of 120 hours.
  2. Engagement in a career related work experience, which must promote academic, career and/or personal development.
  3. Engagement in a career related work experience, which must lead to the development and use of professional skills and strategies.
  4. Engagement in a career related work experience, which must be under the supervision of an appropriate supervisor.
  5. Engagement in a career related work experience, which is aligned with one of the eight Baccalaureate learning outcomes.

Experiential Learning

Experiential learning refers to “hands-on” learning.  This suggests that learning occurs through doing.  If you are eager to apply your classroom knowledge in a real setting, this may be the category for you.  Experiences may include things like working as a team to develop a product for an organization, engaging in projects in the field that require you to observe behaviors and infer outcomes, or engaging in a global experience.

  1. Engagement in an experiential learning experience, which may include non-credit bearing pre-professional experiences, field/clinical work, instruction or other non-credit bearing experiences that lead to increased professional preparation including the development of skills in problem-solving, decision-making and application of knowledge.  Note: Internships should be submitted as a career related work experience.
  2. Engagement in an experiential learning experience that is supervised by an appropriate mentor.
  3. Engagement in an experiential learning experience, which is aligned with one of the eight Baccalaureate learning outcomes.

Leadership

If you have a passion for inspiring others, understanding how followers respond to different leadership styles or effective strategies for engaging others, this may be the category for you.  Leadership experiences will include extensive training and/or application of skills.  Experiences may include engaging in intensive leadership and professional development training, and serving as an orientation leader, a community advisor or a peer educator.

  1. Engagement in an extensive leadership development experience, which is non-credit bearing and includes direct involvement with high-level decision making and skill development.
  2. Engagement in an extensive leadership development experience that goes beyond membership or mere involvement and is evidenced by the student’s ability to do one or more of the following: effectively involve followers, create a shared vision, articulate shared goals and how these goals have been achieved, and reflect on both individual growth and the growth in others.
  3. Engagement in an extensive leadership experience, which is aligned with one of the eight Baccalaureate learning outcomes.

Service-Learning

If you are passionate about serving the community and also are engaged in critical reflection about the impact of your engagement on your own growth and the growth of the community, this may be the right category for you.  Service-learning experiences may include extensive participation in an alternative spring break program, serving through a global community engagement experience like engineers without borders or other global service trips, and providing direct service to the campus or local community through programs like NIU Service Leaders or Huskie Service Scholars.  Service-learning experiences must include a critical reflection component and must go beyond community service or volunteering.

  1. Engagement in a non-credit bearing service-learning experience where learning occurs through service and involves an extensive reflective experience where students are able to articulate:
    1. How this service-learning experience has increased their awareness of community needs and has impacted their sense of personal, social and community responsibility.
    2. How their prior knowledge applies to the service-learning experience.
    3. How this service-learning experience has increased their knowledge about the community for which they served.
    4. Engagement in a service-learning experience, which is aligned with one of the eight Baccalaureate learning outcomes.

Undergraduate Research

If you are curious and passionate about gaining a deep understanding through scholarly inquiry and exploration, this may be the category for you.  Undergraduate research experiences involve working independently with a faculty mentor or through a structured program like Research Rookies to explore topics that interest you.  You are also encouraged to consider avenues for presenting your research as part of this experience.

  1. Engagement in a non-credit bearing undergraduate research experience, which must occur under the close guidance of a qualified faculty mentor.
  2. Engagement in an undergraduate research experience must lead to the creation of new knowledge and/or the expansion of current knowledge.
  3. Engagement in an undergraduate research experience, which is aligned with one of the eight Baccalaureate learning outcomes.