Clarion University’s Center for Career and Professional Development is increasing student engagement through gamification and that tactic has garnered attention from higher education institutions across the world.
Joshua Domitrovich, interim Director for the Center for Career and Professional Development, has been spreading the word about how the gamification of such programs like CUpro and CUmentor can help increase student engagement.
CUpro is designed to enhance students' career development and job search skills. Comprised of various appointments, programs, workshops, and events ranging from resumes and interviewing to networking and professionalism, students have the flexibility to choose which option(s) best meet their needs.
The CUmentor program is designed to link alumni, employers, and professional partners with current Clarion University students to facilitate mentor-mentee partnerships that foster the sharing of knowledge and experience.
Domitrovich has presented to state, regional, and national audiences in the past and
his most recent virtual speaking engagement took place this spring as part of the
Creating Connections digital series held by Aluminati, an organization that creates
online platforms for institutions. There were 10 countries represented including educational
and industry leaders from the United States, Canada, South Africa, France, Italy,
England, Poland, Ireland, Singapore and Sweden.
Aluminati CEO Daniel Watts asked Domitrovich to present after Domitrovich's article on the same topic appeared in the February 2020 edition of the NACE Journal.
"The uniqueness of our program is how we've strategically streamlined our services and made them student-focused and friendly," Domitrovich said.
Domitrovich explained that CUmentor and CUpro have evolved over the years, which is a lesson others can learn when developing something new – be willing to make changes.
"We are always reiterating and gathering feedback to make our services better," Domitrovich said.
The biggest change came in the form of adding a gamification element to the programs with participation in one program giving students access to the other.
"Throughout the research I quickly realized the niche in the market was the lack of attention placed on student preparation for mentorship. This is how CUpro was developed. In order to receive a mentor in CUmentor, students must obtain a certain level of competency, which is assessed by CUpro. Once accomplished, students are awarded the CUpro badge (gamification) and eligibility into the program. We've taken a unique concept and gamified it to increase student engagement and motivation for our services."
CUpro's digital badges also have been refined and strengthened by aligning their anatomy with NACE's career readiness competencies.
Domitrovich is proud of how far the programs have come at Clarion and that they also are receiving global attention.
"CUmentor started with no financial support or allocation. I strategically partnered with CIS students and faculty to create a homegrown software saving the university tens of thousands of dollars. Now, we have a strategic partnership with Alumni Engagement and are embedded within their Clarion Golden Eagle Gateway," Domitrovich said.
Golden Eagle Gateway, which is powered by Graduway, has a mentoring platform, which has replaced the homegrown version Domitrovich and his team created years ago.
The good news is the version offered on Golden Eagle Gateway not only creates opportunities for alumni mentor and student mentee matches but also provides mentoring and networking matches between alumni, explained Ann Thompson, director of Alumni Engagement.
It allows those on Golden Eagle Gateway to select their levels of participation in the mentoring program such as how many mentees they can mentor and the number of hours they have available for mentoring, Thompson explained. The software also gives students their best matches when they acquire access to Golden Eagle Gateway.
Students must earn certain levels of badges in order to access to the Golden Eagle Gateway – which is another gamification aspect the Career Center was able to implement.
Thompson noted that student access to Golden Eagle Gateway goes with them when they graduate, which gives badges a long-term benefit. In turn, those students can one day help someone else.
"You can give back later," Thompson said. "Once an eagle, always an eagle."
Thompson was happy to report that 72 percent of alumni who have signed up for the Golden Eagle Gateway are willing to give back to students in a variety of ways.
In addition to developing CUpro and CUmentor, Domitrovich is frequently questioned after presentations so others can learn more about the Career Center's programs or so he can assist other colleges in the development of their own programs. These follow-ups have led to strategic partnerships with the University of Kansas and Lattus – a software company where Domitrovich serves as the lead Higher Education Advisor to assist in the development of their service.