Sheridan students are regularly called on to Get Creative in and out of the classroom. Student Affairs is hoping they will also explore the many ways in which they can ‘Get Involved’. Of the array of activities available on campus, those deemed co-curricular land somewhere between in-class experiences and volunteering. While they aren’t documented on an official transcript, they are recognized on Sheridan’s Co-Curricular Record (CCR) – an institutional document verifying the completion of an activity that fosters personal growth and professional development.
Christina Wiggins, Employment Consultant and Project Leader for Sheridan’s CCR and Diana Herholz, Co-ordinator of Student Leadership and Engagement and Database Administrator for the CCR are the duo who have led the initiative since its launch in 2012. Students can search the CCR database for a range of available positions – in the 2015-2016 academic year it boasted more than 400. “There’s something for everyone,” says Herholz, who refreshes the database at the end of each academic term. “If a student can’t find something they are interested in, they can contact us to discuss new opportunities.” Wiggins adds: “We encourage those with an idea not to overthink it. “It’s not a pass/fail scenario. We want to be as supportive and engaged as possible to see if the idea can become CCR eligible.”
“We encourage those with an idea not to overthink it. “It’s not a pass/fail scenario. We want to be as supportive and engaged as possible to see if the idea can become CCR eligible” – Christina Wiggins
Perennial roles like Sheridan STARs (Student Admissions Representatives) and Peer Mentors are paid CCR opportunities open to students from all programs. There are also program-specific opportunities, which include competitions like the Paralegal Mock Trial Cup and event organization. Some of the one-time opportunities developed with the help of a student or employee are particularly intriguing. In the Applied Research area one student designed illustrated pages for an adult colouring book that were integrated into a Principles of Creative Problem Solving course as a way to explore the pedagogic value of adult colouring. Wiggins and Herholz both note a memorable CCR experience involving an anthropological endeavour led by Professor Jaime Ginter. Research assistants from General Arts and Science, Animation, and Athletic Therapy programs participated in organizing, cataloguing and repairing human bones that were on loan from a museum in Munich, Germany. The CCR experience left such an impression on one student that she went on to study nutritional anthropology at university.
How does a CCR activity differ from those found on the Sheridan Student Union volunteer board? While both types of experiences are beneficial to a student’s personal development, can provide an opportunity to connect with peers and community, and add beneficial resume experience, co-curricular activities are directly overseen by Sheridan staff members and directly connected to learning. “Students are able to articulate, and are consciously aware of, learning they are experiencing,” Wiggins explains. “Rather than realizing after the fact what the learning outcome was from a particular experience, it helps dictate the course of the activity,” says Herholz. There are 17 learning competencies that can be associated with CCR activities, although only one or two are selected to be fulfilled for each activity. Competencies include civic engagement, collaboration, effective communication, global awareness, interpersonal skills, and spiritual awareness.
Maintaining the integrity of the CCR initiative at Sheridan is of utmost importance to Wiggins and Herholz and the Activity Leader and Validator roles work to uphold this. The positions are filled voluntarily by professors and staff at the College. Activity Leaders oversee each CCR activity, working with students to establish learning competencies and ensuring a minimum of 10 hours are completed by each student. Validators, who ninety percent of the time are also an Activity Leader, authenticate individual requests from students who apply to have an activity added to their CCR. “We are grateful to have so many passionate Activity Leaders,” says Wiggins. “They believe in the value of experiences outside of the classroom and make the time in their schedules to support students.”
While the CCR is a Canada-wide program and growing in popularity at post-secondary institutions, Wiggins and Herholz believe that Sheridan’s CCR program is exemplary. Its 10-hour minimum for activity hours, the passion shown by Activity Leaders, and how opportunities continue to expand in number and diversity make it stand out, as does its integration with Sheridan’s Career Centre. “We are one of the few institutions with this setup,” explains Wiggins. “It makes sense as there’s a symbiosis between co-curriculars and employability.” Currently a co-chair of the Canada-wide Co-Curricular Record Community of Practice under CACUSS (the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services), Wiggins sees firsthand how other post-secondary institutions manage their CCRs and knowledge-shares with her peers at annual CCR conferences.
“Knowing that CCR can be the vehicle to creativity and social innovation is very rewarding. It’s so much more than a job board. It’s a place to go to and get inspired” – Diana Herholz
As Sheridan students are catching on to how beneficial co-curricular experiences and a formal CCR can be to their future employability, Wiggins and Herholz are prepared to accommodate anyone who is interested. “I can’t really describe the feeling when a student approaches me and says, ‘I have an idea, how can I do this?’” says Wiggins. “Knowing that CCR can be the vehicle to creativity and social innovation is very rewarding.” As Herholz puts it: “It’s so much more than a job board. It’s a place to go to and get inspired.”
Pictured at top of page: Christina Wiggins and Diana Herholz in Sheridan’s Career Centre at the Trafalgar Campus
Written by: Keiko Kataoka, Digital Communications Officer at Sheridan.