Blog Post

Bridges into the Workplace: One-on-One Student Meetings with Professor Luis Bonilla

Headshot of Professor Luis Bonilla

Today on Progressive Pedagogy, we turn to student centered advising with Professor Luis Bonilla. Professor Bonilla is a Professor of Practice and Director of the Digital Audiences Lab at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He teaches the course Digital Audiences Lab where he “helps students learn how to research and define audience data, as well as how to grow and engage these audiences for real-world clients.”

His teaching innovation bridges the classroom to the workplace. Professor Bonilla explains, “Throughout the semester, I conduct bi-weekly one-on-one meetings with each student in the same manner as they can expect in the real-world workplace. I have found it to be a crucial opportunity to build trust, provide and take transparent feedback, and to genuinely understand how each student would prefer to learn. It also helps ensure that each student receives focused attention on his or her needs and goals.”

“The one-on-one meetings have allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of what concerns students in their lab work, which I then use to adjust my approach for the curriculum—not only for that student, but perhaps for all of the students in the lab and in future semesters. One sentiment I often hear from students is that they don't feel heard or valued by professors in other classes, so I feel that these one-on-one meetings are a necessary component in the curriculum for student engagement. Setting the tone for the one-on-one meetings starts before the semester begins during student orientation, where I set the expectations of what we will discuss, how long we will hold the meeting, and the casual nature of the dialogue. Then at the beginning of the first one-on-one, I reiterate what we'll use this time for (such as reviewing any concepts that they don't want to bring up in front of the group or even events or challenges outside of our classroom) and begin asking a few questions. Some are relevant to the coursework, while others are more customized to the student (i.e., do you have any siblings in college or why did you choose to attend the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication?). I want the tone of the meeting to be open and eventually a safe space for students to express their thoughts, but that only happens over time and after showing that I care not just about their success, but for them as an individual.”

“Each student is different and each one-on-one meeting is also unique. The meeting can also be different each time with the same student. Maybe during the first few meetings they focus more on the new concepts they're learning, but as the semester progresses, they are more concerned with managing their school workload or how they will find a suitable job after employment. Their concern is my concern, so I make sure I listen and, if they ask for advice, I provide a few different perspectives so they can feel confident in their decision. One of the goals of the one-on-one meetings is to help the students know that I am a resource to help and that what I teach will truly help them in their future careers. I don't have any motives; all I want is for them to do well in my course and in life.”

As the Director of the Digital Audiences Lab, Professor Bonilla says: “The Digital Audiences Lab is a first-of-its-kind professional immersion program in which students work with real clients to meaningfully grow, engage and measure their audiences. Students work in teams in an agency-like environment, researching audience opportunities and creating data-driven growth strategies for clients. Then they put the strategies to work with real social campaigns, search optimization and content testing, and they measure performance in real time.”

Professor Bonilla has over 10 years of experience in digital marketing for a wide range of organizations, including start-ups, digital agencies, and large-scale corporations with global clients.

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