By the Numbers: Aim 1: Launch a college-wide experiential learning lab

Sunday, July 2, 2023 - 7:30am
Summary of Activities  

In 2022-2023, the college continued to expand the Experience Lab, originally launched in the fall of 2021. Student enrollment in the experience lab grew from 136 in 2021-2022 to 233 in 2022-2023, with 96 students enrolling in fall 2022 and 137 in spring 2023. The college expanded the number of professionals in residence providing mentorship to Experience Lab Students from 13 in fall 2021 and 17 in spring 2022 to 21 in fall 2022 and 21 in spring 2023.   

The college hired 13 students to serve as experience lab leads in fall 2022 and 11 in spring 2023. Jemalyn Griffin and Jill Martin served as co-directors, and seven faculty engaged as faculty liaisons.  

  • Buoy: Dave Remund 
  • Heartland: Brian Hubbard (fall) // Randy Hawthorne (spring) 
  • KRNU: Rick Alloway 
  • Unlimited Sports: John Shrader 
  • Nebraska Nightly: Ken Fischer 
  • Nebraska News Service: Jill Martin 

Throughout the year, the faculty implemented various initiatives to support the training and development of student leaders in journalism, broadcasting, advertising and public relations. These initiatives aimed to equip them with the necessary skills, knowledge and experiences to excel in their roles and contribute to the overall success of the programs. 

The Experience Lab co-directors provided a half-day training on Aug. 18, 2022, where they discussed program expectations and introduced the students to program goals, values and expectations. This orientation session also outlined their specific responsibilities of leading the programs and their peers, emphasizing the importance of professionalism, integrity and strong leadership. Agenda items included team building, project and content management, internal and conflict management, organizational leadership and mentoring, Title IV protocol and planning sessions. In the spring 2023 semester, student leaders met with their faculty liaisons weekly and with the Experience Lab co-directors every other week to report successes and challenges and plan ahead. 

During the first four weeks of the semester, faculty and professionals-in-residence hosted on-sight training on topics like text and video editing, reporting, interviewing, on-air presence, etc. Faculty also met with the students weekly to discuss effective leadership skills such as communication, teamwork, critical thinking and decision-making. Student leaders were encouraged to actively participate in discussions and problem-solve with one another when they faced program challenges with their students. 

Mentorship played a crucial role in the college's training program. Experienced mentors provided support and practical advice based on their own professional experiences. Through mentorship and shadowing opportunities, student leaders gained valuable insights and benefited from the expertise of seasoned professionals in the field. 

Professionals-in-residence in the Experience Lab played a key role in training students on producing and editing. The following PIRs provided direct training and feedback to Nebraska Nightly students each Tuesday and Friday throughout the semester: Mikel Lauber, director of news, 10/11 News, KSNB Local 4, KNOP News 2; Bayle Bischof, assignment manager/senior reporter, 10/11 News; Mike McKnight, investigative reporter, WOWT-TV; and Ellis Wiltsey, senior content producer, 10/11 News. PIRs in all program areas provided training, mentoring and leadership guidance to students every week.  

To support our goal of securing space for the experience lab program, the college recruited two additional sponsors for the Agency, Union Bank and Trust and Eleanor Creative. The college also completed renovation on the 2,400 square-foot Don and Lorena Meier studio and hosted a ribbon-cutting event in November 2022. Lastly, the college finished renovating the Pepsi Unlimited Sports Lab and hosted a grand opening in March 2023.    

The college also laid the foundation to expand the Experience Lab by adding Production House beginning in fall 2023. Kristian Andersen was hired in the spring of 2023 as an assistant professor of practice in media production to lead this effort.   

In 2022-2023, the college focused on developing plans to establish a transcribable portfolio requirement. With input from the strategic planning committee, the college established a task force to focus on this goal. The task force included the associate dean for academic programs, the director of business and operations, the Experience Lab co-directors, the communication design coordinator, the career development specialist and the academic adviser who oversees the college's senior exit course. The team developed plans to institute a portfolio requirement for all graduating seniors.

During 2022-2023, the task force implemented some initial elements of the plan, including an introduction to portfolios and guidance on saving work in the communication design course, guidance on portfolios and the requirement to establish one in the sophomore development course. Also, the group began gathering information from faculty to include portfolios throughout the curriculum.   

The college also increased the number of faculty-led study abroad trips from one in the summer of 2022 to two in the summer of 2023, traveling to Spain and England. 

Review of the targets

Aim 1 Targets 




25-26 (Goal) 

60% of undergraduate majors enrolled in or completed the practicum[i]




80% of graduating seniors with professional portfolio 


Study abroad participation[ii]  





Increase first-semester freshmen by 15%[iii] 





Increase total college enrollment by 10% [iv]





First-second-year retention rate of 88.5%[v] 





Six-year graduation rate of 79%[vi] 





Four-year graduation rate of 57%[vii]  





First Destination Rate (employment, education or military service) of 58%[viii] 





The college increased on all targets except overall enrollment, the six-year graduation rate and the First Destination Rate. Notably, the college achieved the largest increase in first-time freshmen, first to second-year retention rate and four-year graduation rate on campus. 

In the fall of 2022, the college conducted a detailed assessment of the college's enrollment and retention that identified two primary factors in the decrease in college enrollment. Those factors included a sharp decrease in graduate enrollment and declining transfer numbers from other university units, most notably the College of Business and the Explore Center. During 2022-2023, the college worked with Jacht Agency to begin a promotional campaign for the graduate programs and approved a minor in advertising and public relations to attract more on-campus transfer students. 

Accurate reporting for first-destination rates has been challenging. This data was maintained by the Office of Career Services until January 2023. In 2021-2022, the college undertook an effort to identify students through LinkedIn to improve reporting on first destination outcomes and reported findings to the Office of Career Services using a Qualtrics Survey. Unfortunately, due to a technological problem with the survey, that data was lost and not included in the first destination reports.

In January 2023, the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Analytics took over reporting on first destination survey results.  

In the coming year, the college will examine the drop in the six-year graduation rate and develop a plan to improve reporting on first-destination outcomes for students. 

[i] Total number of students enrolled in experience lab courses, JOMC 197, 297 and 396 divided by the total fall 2022 undergraduate enrollment.

[ii] Figures provided by the Office of Education Abroad.

[iii] Figure from the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Analytics Enrollment by College and Student Level, Fall 2022 report.

[iv] Figure from the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Analytics Enrollment by College and Student Level, Fall 2022 report.

[v] Figure from the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Analytics Retention Rates, 2022-2023 report.

[vi] Figure from the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Analytics Graduation Rates, 2022-2023 report.

[vii] Figure from the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Analytics Graduation Rates, 2022-2023 report.

[viii] Figure from the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Analytics First Destination Survey Primary Status Headcount Report, 2022-2023 report.