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Student Engagement

Scaffolding Student Engagement and Fostering Professional Development


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Bucknell University, located in Lewisburg, PA, educates over 3700 students including 800 undergraduate students in the Freeman College of Management. They offer six different majors and have an average class size of 25 students. In 2023, it was their 6th year being named as a business school and they are proud to be ranked 19th by P&Q as an undergraduate business school.

About the School

Bucknell’s Kenneth W. Freeman College of Management transcends the ordinary and invites students into a world of real experiences. This college goes beyond the conventional classroom setting, encouraging students to engage with the real business landscape both within and outside its academic walls. At Freeman, professional and liberal undergraduate education seamlessly converge, creating a distinctive atmosphere where a highly selective student body collaborates with a faculty of engaged individuals. Together, they analyze organizations, devise creative solutions, and build a powerful network that makes graduates highly sought after by top companies. 

What makes this college stand out is its unwavering commitment to putting students first. Decision-making revolves around their best interests and the emphasis on professional development extends beyond technical skills, incorporating intellectual depth and moral growth. Their goal is to shape graduates who not only understand organizations but also lead with vision and responsibility.


Challenges before Suitable

Before the collaboration with Suitable, Bucknell’s program operated without a formal tracking system, relying on tools such as Google Docs, sign-in sheets, and ID swipers. Despite collecting data, it was seldom utilized, leading to uncertainty about its effectiveness in making critical adjustments for their students. The burden of inconsistency became evident as manual processes were the sole means of monitoring student engagement. The absence of a comprehensive system also meant limited access to crucial student engagement data, making it challenging to evaluate and improve the overall student experience.

Life with Suitable

In 2017, the Kenneth W. Freeman College of Management embarked on a transformative journey, establishing itself as an independent school with AASCB Accreditation goals. The primary focus was on enhancing the collection of student engagement data, specifically targeting High Impact Practices (HIPs) and experiential learning. Aspiring to become pioneers in experiential learning, the college sought to amplify student involvement opportunities. The collaborative efforts with Suitable led to the creation of BisonReady, a groundbreaking mobile student engagement platform designed to bolster student participation. 

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BisonReady not only marked a significant milestone for Bucknell but also introduced a novel approach to professional development programming. This platform provided students with avenues to explore, develop their personal and professional identities, foster relationships, practice teamwork, and engage civically. The program’s initial launch extended to student organizations and their introduction to business course, MGMT 100. The active involvement of students in early focus groups and launch plans underscored the commitment to inclusivity. Leveraging the insights from the student advisory board and the Freeman Fellow group–a peer mentorship initiative– Bucknell successfully introduced BisonRady to first-year students, laying the foundation for a comprehensive and student-centric engagement experience.

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Outcomes Achieved

Since the implementation of BisonReady, the program has achieved notable success, making a significant impact on the student experience at Bucknell. The innovative approach began by introducing students to BisonReady even before they set foot on campus, seamlessly integrating it into the Pre-Orientation program. This collaborative effort with their Office of Civic Engagement enabled students to utilize BisonReady for tracking and logging reflections, journaling about professional development, and engaging in student activities before embarking on their educational journey.

Adding an exciting incentive to boost engagement, BisonReady actively encourages the first-year incoming class by offering a trip to 15 students who successfully complete all the requirements of the pre-orientation program on the platform. This unique offering not only motivates students but also sets the tone for active participation right from the start. The program’s success extends beyond the initial introduction to encompass the Freeman Fellows and Herd Mentorship initiatives. Freeman Fellows pairs first-year students with a junior or senior student mentor, guiding them through their initial year and exploring the myriad of resources and opportunities offered by Freeman through BisonReady.

Further, the Herd Mentorship program, facilitated through BisonReady, connects first-year students with alumni at the beginning of their fall semester. This not only helps build a professional network but also fosters confidence in navigating a new community and exploring diverse paths and opportunities. BisonReady has provided Bucknell with real-time insights into programming gaps, allowing for continuous improvement. The collection of easily accessible reflections from students has facilitated ongoing enhancements, particularly through the approval of workflows for reflections and submissions, scaling feedback to students, and improving the qualitative assessment of their learning experiences. The program’s success lies not only in its functionality but also in its ability to adapt and group alongside the students it serves.

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Plans for the Future

Looking ahead, BisonReady is strategically gearing up for future enhancements, with a particular focus on bolstering faculty engagement. The program envisions collaborating closely with academic departments to develop academic exploration badges tailored to first-year and sophomore students. This innovative approach aims to foster academic curiosity and provide structured pathways for students to explore diverse disciplines within their early years,

Expanding its reach beyond the business school, BisonReady also plans to integrate with various campus departments. By doing so, the program aspires to create collaborative connections that enrich the student experience holistically. This inclusive strategy ensures that BisonReady becomes a central hub, connecting students with resources, opportunities, and support services across the campus landscape. 

Finally, BisonReady is committed to refining its incentive plans to further motivate students. The program’s future initiatives involve intentional efforts to create meaningful benchmarks that incentivize continuous student usage throughout their four-year academic journey. By aligning incentives with students’ evolving needs and milestones, BisonReady aims to not only engage them effectively but also contribute to their sustained growth and development throughout their college experience. This forward-thinking approach demonstrates BisonReady’s dedication to evolving with the ever-changing landscape of student needs and aspirations.