Faculty Development & Learning Assessment

Helping Students Meet Professional Expectations


We strive to make our classrooms safe havens of learning and growth, places where our students can apply what they are learning and not fear making mistakes. However, we know that once our students leave the academic world they will be entering a professional environment that has high expectations. These are expectations that we as professionals encounter daily: punctuality (showing up and meeting deadlines on time), being able to present and discuss concepts articulately and respectfully, and more. What can we do to teach these skills and enable our students’ long-term success?

Here are four ideas:

1. Share with students what employers and clients expect from you at your workplace. Maybe you’ve shown students your work; now it’s time to let students know how your presentation skills, ability to work collaboratively and to problem-solve helped you beat the competition, and achieve and maintain your position.

2. Encourage students to view your class as a design studio that is dependent upon clients. Remind them that you are modeling a professional environment. If possible, invite a guest to class—someone from your industry—to view and possibly critique the students’ work.

3. Make being punctual something to strive for. Recognize students who are on time. You probably stressed the importance of punctuality at your first class and possibly reminded them that being late for work can get them fired; this gives the same information a more positive twist.

4. Demonstrate a professional presentation. We sometimes assume that students know what we mean by ‘professional,’ but for many who don’t have actual industry experience, this is a nebulous term. Make it a teachable moment. Give a presentation (including professional visuals!) and then ask students to describe what made it professional. If time permits, have the students role play. Later, have them discuss which presentation skills they want to master by semester’s end and give them opportunities to practice.

Adapted from: Academy of Art University Faculty Development Team. (2009). Helping Students Meet Professional Expectations. Retrieved April 5, 2009, from Academy of Art Web site: http://faculty.academyart.edu/resources/index.asp