Supervising Students

Best Practices for Supervising Students in their Community-Based Learning and Research Position:


Provide a structured experience for students with opportunities for personal and professional growth

  • Designate one main contact or site supervisor to work directly with the student
  • Set a regular working schedule with the student
  • Set clear expectations during the orientation and reinforce those expectations throughout the quarter
  • Schedule regular in-person or remote (via phone, Skype, etc.) check-in appointments.  The frequency depends on how often the student is working and when deliverables are due.  Frequent check-in meetings may be more important at the beginning and can be less frequent as the student and site supervisor feel more comfortable.
  • Allow time for lots of questions in the first week—make yourself more available, if possible.  Encourage the student to ask questions—it is always better to have them ask questions rather than do something wrong.  It also helps you understand how you can improve your orientation/training.
  • Provide opportunities for the student to reflect on how the work they are completing for your organization connects with the theories and concepts they are learning in class.
  • If possible, allow time for the student to have meetings with other staff in the organization—this allows them to get to know the organization better and begin building their own network.  Encourage them to continue to find connections, mentors, etc.

Provide regular feedback

  • During regular check-in meetings provide honest and detailed feedback.  Starting with positive feedback always helps in presenting and hearing critical feedback.
  • Remember, they are students.  For some of them, this may be their first formal interaction outside of teachers/faculty.  Maybe their first real “job” where they have expectations.  Also keep in mind their age/generation, other factors that may contribute to their ability to succeed.
  • If appropriate, provide suggestions, steps and timeline for improvement.

Communication is key

  • The orientation should cover expectations around the frequency and type of communication expected between student and site supervisor.  Frequent communication will help the student stay focused and feel confident in their work.
  • Provide the student with information on who they should contact in case of an emergency or unexpected absence.
  • Contact the Office of Community-Based Learning and Research if you need any guidance in working with students.  uwbcblr@uw.edu

Retaining your student beyond the quarter

  • Encourage and compliment student’s growth
  • Ask if they would like to continue working with your team/organization
  • Let them know this experience could turn into an internship, independent study or another CBLR course (guide student to CBLR office – uwbcblr@uw.edu)
  • Provide student with more responsibility, opportunities for leadership, personal and professional growth