A partnership between the Office of Academic Affairs and the Office of Student Life, the Second-Year Transformational Experience Program (STEP) at Ohio State focuses on both student engagement and student development in an effort to enhance second-year success. Building upon key components of second-year success, students live on campus, participate in key co-curricular programs and activities, learn through peer interaction, and are guided through interaction with faculty mentors, who they meet with weekly, to assist them in enhancing their personal, academic and professional goals.
Students also have the opportunity to engage in a transformational experience at the conclusion of their year in STEP in one of six core areas (internships, leadership, study abroad, service-learning, undergraduate research, or artistic and creative endeavors). As a result, students gain greater self-awareness, explore educational interests and further develop career goals and aspirations.
At the conclusion of their experience, STEP students are then asked to report back in some way: through a presentation at the STEP Expo or a research forum; through a performance; or via another creative route. After attending a conference session about digital stories and creating one myself in an OSU workshop this past summer, I felt that giving a student the opportunity to “report back” about an experience via a digital story was a perfect vehicle. Digital stories encourage people to think about how something has improved or changed them, or TRANSFORMED them, exactly what STEP is all about!
In October, 8 STEP students participated in a weekend-long workshop and created digital stories about their STEP Experiences – reflecting on what they experienced, how they felt about the experiences, and what they gained from them. It has been amazing to see the transformations that have materialized for these students depicted on-screen via images taken by them, or of their own choosing, and narrated in their own voices. Their digital stories are thoughtful, heartwarming, and inspirational – we could not have asked for better outcomes for our STEP students!
These 8 students are now preparing to assist other STEP students in creating their own digital stories in workshops. They look forward to the opportunity to help others find their voices and share their journeys.
Over the next several weeks, we will be sharing digital stories and thoughts on the digital storytelling workshop from various STEP students. -Ed
Vicki Pitstick is the Program Manager for the Second-Year Transformational Experience Program at Ohio State. She was also a participant in the Summer 2014 Faculty/Staff Digital Storytelling Workshop.