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Building a Supervisor Professional Learning Model to Improve Internships in Information and Communication Technology

This NSF Advancing Innovation and Impact in Undergraduate STEM Education project seeks to improve internship outcomes for Information Technology students by testing the efficacy of professional learning (PL) for internship supervisors.

Early internship experiences are strongly linked to improved career outcomes, such as an increased likelihood to graduate, receiving a full-time job offer, and earning professional certifications. The goals of this project are to increase access to IT internship experiences for NOVA students, develop a PL program to support internship supervisors, and investigate the PL's efficacy in improving internship outcomes.

During its 4-year duration, SuperPL will achieve these goals by:

  • Developing and deploying a Career Leadership and Readiness Institute (CLRI) for NOVA students.
  • Creating a guaranteed interview and IT internship program with Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS).
  • Providing PWCS internship supervisors with PL to help improve internship experiences for students.

SuperPL Outcomes

  • 43 student interviews with Prince William County Schools (PWCS) for summer IT internships.
  • 25 internship offers made to IT students (23 accepted).
  • 37 total CLRI certificates awarded, 19 in IT.

More Information on NOVA Programs Supported by SuperPL

SuperPL NSF Grant Abstract

This award is funded in whole or in part under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Public Law 117-2). This project aims to serve the national interest by preparing students for careers in information and communication technology (ICT). The COVID-19 pandemic has increased reliance on computing infrastructure, amplified the need for skilled workers to support this infrastructure, and has disproportionately negatively impacted college students, especially those from historically marginalized groups. This project addresses the need to prepare students for ICT careers by developing (1) a Career and Leadership Readiness Institute (CLRI) program, (2) an internship program for CLRI completers, and (3) a professional learning (PL) program targeted at internship supervisors for students in Northern Virginia Community College's (NOVA) Information and Engineering Technologies programs. The goals of the project are to (1) increase access and improve internship outcomes and (2) develop a PL program to support intern supervision. Over the four-year duration of this project, 150 students will be provided with career and leadership preparation through the CLRI program, 75 of the CLRI completers will enroll in an IT internship program, and PL will be provided for 50 supervisors.

Using a quasi-experimental mixed methods research design, this project will advance our understanding of how projects such as this one (a) improve outcomes (i.e., professional socialization, attitudes toward ICT disciplines, degree completion, persistence in ICT careers) for CLRI completers placed in internships compared to CLRI completers who are not placed in internships; and (b) improve supervisors' coaching of interns (i.e., confidence for supervising, effective coaching skills). The longitudinal and cross-sectional components of the research design allow for comparison of outcomes and documentation of the relative impacts of the CLRI, internship, and PL for students and supervisors, which is absent in the existing research literature. Since supervision quality and characteristics are critically important in determining student learning experiences and outcomes in diverse fields, the model is expected to be valuable across disciplines and for all workplace learning opportunities. The NSF program description on Advancing Innovation and Impact in Undergraduate STEM Education at two-year Institutions of Higher Education supports projects that advance STEM education initiatives at two-year colleges. The program description promotes innovative and evidence-based practices in undergraduate STEM education at two-year colleges.

SuperPL Contacts

Mr. Josh Labrie, Principal Investigator: jlabrie@nvcc.edu
Mr. Jack Bidlack, Co-Principal Investigator: jbidlack@nvcc.edu
Chris Russell, Ph.D., Co-Principal Investigator: crussell@nvcc.edu

For more information about the National Science Foundation (NSF)

Go to https://www.nsf.gov