Sustaining a Co-Curricular Record

I'm really excited to see it advance. My Spartan Story gives us all a reason to be excited about the future of student experiences at MSU.
Bill Heinrich

By Bill Heinrich

My Spartan Story (MSU’s co-curricular record) hit two big milestones so far in 2020 that will help sustain the initiative. In February 2020 the accreditation coordinator for the campus asked to include this initiative in their update of MSU’s accreditation materials. The Higher Learning Commission, MSU’s accreditor, looks to ensure that:

“Co-curricular programs are suited to the institution’s mission and contribute to the educational experience of its students” (section 3.E.1) and “The institution assesses achievement of the learning outcomes that it claims for its curricular and co-curricular programs” (section 4.B.2).

My Spartan Story helps faculty and staff accomplish both of these (co-curricular) standards in the data platform that tracks all the details of co-curricular experiences. The platform helps users directly align their activity learning outcomes to MSU’s campus learning goals and each student can display their accomplishments on MSU’s official Spartan Experience Record. The Spartan Experience Record is the document that recognizes students for their deep and broad learning outside of the classroom. It’s not terribly surprising to gain this notice from the accreditation side of things; the design team planned for it and anticipated supporting accreditation efforts. But it’s still an important moment to see happen.

The other big milestone took place in January of 2020 when the Hub, a campus design group and incubator, officially turned over the keys to the project to the Director of My Spartan Story, Sarah Schultz, and the Office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education. To deliver this project to the campus meant a significant investment of time and resources over the past 4 years and a solid commitment of people, technology, and time going forward. The project is in excellent hands and Sarah and her team should take credit for both of these milestones. They are continually improving the user experience and recognizing more students for their learning every day.

This project has led me to new questions about a broader understanding of co-curricular work in the U.S. and abroad, and how to help make learning outcomes most useful. But the future of My Spartan Story will happen because of three ideas baked into the platform.

  1. My Spartan Story recognizes and celebrates student learning outside of the classroom.
  2. My Spartan Story helps faculty and staff share and/or improve their programs with learning outcomes.
  3. My Spartan Story creates the first database of its kind designed to capture co-curricular learning across campus.

These commitments take meaningful effort and support and this initiative couldn’t exist without leaders from the provost office, the CIO, student affairs practitioners across the campus, and leaders and advisors in all the colleges on campus, and the steering and advisory committees for My Spartan Story. As the project steward for this project in the Hub, I’m really excited to see it advance. My Spartan Story gives us all a reason to be excited about the future of student experiences at MSU.