Since its founding in 1855, Berea College has championed educating the whole person—the head, the heart and the hands. This commitment has evolved over the years into a nationally recognized education that blends comprehensive liberal arts with a practical work program and service activities. All degree-seeking students are required to participate in a work assignment (averaging 10–15 hours a week) throughout their tenure.
Based on years of program refinement, Berea College integrated its Work Program into the education program. Student work performance is reviewed and accredited, much like the College’s academic programs. This sensible approach to holistic education and work experience is especially relevant today as colleges and universities face increasing pressures by students, parents, policy makers, employers and business leaders to become more career-focused.
A Practical Education Program
Labor Supervisor/Practical Instructor
Labor supervisors are essential, valued members at Berea College. They help create job descriptions that serve as a ‘labor syllabus’ to guide and direct student workers. These descriptions include a learning opportunity section detailing learning outcomes of successful performance. Every position is assigned one of six Work-Learning-Service levels: entry, intermediate, skilled, advanced, management and director. As student workers move into higher-level work positions, learning outcomes progress accordingly. Students can advocate for positions that relate to his/her major or career goal.
Student Labor Evaluation
Labor supervisors evaluate student work on seven performance expectations helping students develop both soft and specific skills employers value: attendance, accountability, teamwork, initiative, respect, learning and position-specific requirements.
Labor Experience Evaluation
The Labor Experience Evaluation allows students to reflect on their overall labor experience in the following key areas: learning through work experiences, relationship between work and academics, four core general educational goals, evaluation of the local work area and evaluation of the Labor Program.
Supervisor, Department, Divisional and Institutional
Annual program assessment takes place at the supervisor, department, division and institutional levels, using quantitative and qualitative measures from a “Student Labor Evaluation” and a “Labor Experience Evaluation.” In addition to evaluating student performance, the exercise helps assess and improve the overall effectiveness of the labor program.
The Labor Transcript serves as a permanent record of that student’s participation in the Student Labor Program. When coupled with a resume, the Labor Transcript supports a student’s efforts in exploring career opportunities after graduation and can serve as a basis for conversation with a potential employer.