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The Senior Year Experience has some common requirements for all students. For instance, each student must make some sort of public presentation, exhibition, performance or display to demonstrate that he or she can effectively speak or perform before an audience. But how students actually complete their Senior Year Experience varies depending on their fields of study.
Here are some examples:
In accounting, students incorporate their knowledge by working in teams to complete a business case study that covers all facets of accounting, such as taxes, auditing and cost accounting. In transportation and logistics management, students must complete an internship and make a public presentation about their experience.
Bruce Kibler's management students this year are working online with students from a German university. The students form teams to run a simulated company, making all management decisions in operations, human resources, marketing, finances and other key areas. They also create a strategic plan for the next three years. They cap it with joint presentations.
"Some of the teams are all U.S. students, but most are a mix of Germans and American, and they must coordinate their decision-making across cultures, across languages and across time zones," he said.
"We like the diversity of approaches," said Dr. Greg Trudeau, chair of the Department of Business and Economics.
In the Music Department, students completing a bachelor of music education degree complete student teaching assignments while students completing the bachelor of music degree plan and present a senior recital.
(See how Marinos Glitsos prepared for his Senior Year Experience)
Students completing bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degrees have the options of performing a recital or a lecture recital, or completing and presenting a research paper. For instance, one student majoring in music with a minor in legal studies drew on both areas to present a research paper about music copyright laws.
Department Chair Dr. Beth Gilbert said the Senior Year Experience shows what a student has learned, but also is a learning experience itself. "It's a continuation of the learning experience to pull together that senior recital, do that student teaching, or research and write that paper," she said.
Students majoring in biology have three options in choosing a Senior Year Experience: undergraduate research, an internship or a research paper. All require an oral presentation to the public and most require a paper.
(See how Kevin Anderson prepared for his Senior Year Experience.)
The goal of the Senior Year Experience depends on the student.
"For students with a research project, my goal is to provide them with a graduate-level experience that will give them the edge they need to get into a graduate program or to be competitive for employment right out of college," said biology professor Dr. Ed Burkett.
Students pursuing internships must work 50 hours for each academic credit they earn. Students typically gain career exposure at a biology-related organization in the area, such as UW-Superior's Lake Superior Research Institute, or the Environmental Protection Agency lab, Lake Superior Zoo or the Great Lakes Aquarium, all in Duluth. These opportunities often result in job offers after students graduate.
Seniors present their projects at a daylong symposium that the Natural Sciences Department has held for many years. Their presentations are considered a key part of their work.
"If students enter this profession, they have to be able to communicate, both orally and in a written format," Burkett said. "It's a skill that if they do not have it, they won't be successful. This is their opportunity to learn how to present and write formally, and it's a skill they can use to be more successful."
Seniors majoring in video production create a video for their senior experience.
"It's a video of their own creation," said associate professor Brent Notbohm. "It takes them from conception through completion, with the final project ready for an audience."
(See how Zach Anderson prepared for his Senior Year Experience.)
Each video gets its world premier at the Communicating Arts Department's annual Film and Video Showcase held each May in Kathryn Ohman Theater.
Although the video project technically is a one-semester course, most students spend much more time on it. Notbohm advises students throughout the process, approving scripts and overseeing their work in the editing studio.
For the students, the Senior Year Experience video is the final step in a program that has led them through the complexities of video production.
"Usually in our program people make three videos in the course of their studies. The first is in a class, the second is through University Video Production, and the third is their Senior Year Experience video," Notbohm said. "Each of these videos gets better and better. They learn techniques, tools and technology, and are able to refine their own ability."
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