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ASU partnership to help students pay for college

ASU, PayPal partnership to provide jobs, tuition assistance for students.
May 16, 2016

Students working for PayPal via nonprofit Education at Work will be eligible for up to $6,000 a year in tuition assistance

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. To read more top stories from 2016, click here.

Arizona State University is partnering with a nonprofit organization and PayPal in a program that will provide students jobs as well as tuition assistance based on their grades.

Education at Work expects to hire 400 ASU students this year for on-campus jobs with PayPal, and the students will be eligible to receive up to $6,000 a year in tuition assistance on top of hourly pay.

The partnership will help students avoid debt and develop “soft skills” that are needed for professional careers, as well as provide enthusiastic workers to PayPal, which operates a worldwide online payment system.

University President Michael M. Crow said that ASU’s mission of inclusiveness means that there is a broad spectrum of socioeconomic backgrounds among students on campus — and 60 percent of them work at least 20 hours a week.

“It’s a way for us to continue our path of breaking down barriers and making things happen,” he said Monday at a ceremony in Tempe celebrating the new partnership. “We’re hoping we can grow this to 1,000 students and we become a prototype for other universities and that other companies step up.

“What we need is for people to stop complaining about the way things are and start working on how to solve these problems.

“We need to find every possible solution wherein a student can overcome whatever their financial barrier might be. And in addition to that, figure out what work is. This is work that is in the marketplace, dealing with customers, dealing with interaction, working in real-time issues outside the university.”

“It’s a way for us to continue our path of breaking down barriers and making things happen. ... What we need is for people to stop complaining about the way things are and start working on how to solve these problems.”
— ASU President Michael M. Crow

Education at Work is a nonprofit organization that helps reduce college-student debt by partnering with companies that hire the students. It was launched in 2012 in Cincinnati and already partners with the University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, Mount St. Joseph University and Northern Kentucky University. As of March, the organization’s student employees have earned $1,752,572 in tuition assistance and $9,801,724 in wages.

Students can have any major and typically work 12 to 20 hours a week. Education at Work says that most jobs start at $9 per hour, and students can get a $50 bonus for signing up a friend.

To receive the tax-free tuition assistance, students must be employed at least two months. The assistance amount is based on grade-point average and maxes out at $6,000 per year. Full-time students who have a GPA of 2.5 to under 3.0 would earn $1,000 per semester, while those whose grades are 3.0 to under 3.5 get $1,500 and those with 3.5 or above get $3,000. The money is paid to the university, which applies the funds to tuition.

Some of the 400 students have already been hired. Sanya Virani, a biology and psychology major at ASU who will be a sophomore in the fall, said she’s excited to work for the Education at Work job because the hours are flexible, it’s on campus and she’ll be working with other students. She said she’s not daunted by the thought of dealing with customers on the phone.

“They give you six weeks of interactive training to deal with different situations, so they teach you everything you need to know and that will be really valuable in the future,” she said.

Michelle Lim, who will be a junior in the fall, said she was interested because her nursing program has higher costs.

“There’s the textbooks, program fees, scrubs and things like that. I had never seen an opportunity where they pay you to work and also give you tuition assistance,” she said.

Karen Marshall, vice president of global operations for PayPal North America, said the company expects good productivity from the students.

“We expect customer-satisfaction scores will be higher than we’ve seen in other centers, and that’s what we pride ourselves on,” she said.

“We also hope to build a talented pipeline of individuals who would aspire to come to work in PayPal, in our contact center but also technology, human resources, finance, you name it.”

Apply for a job here.

Top photo: (From left) ASU President Michael M. Crow, Education at Work Chief Financial Officer Steve Rolls, Education Works Vice President of Customer Care at Sharon Maestas, PayPal North America Vice President of Global Operations Karen Marshall and USA Funds CEO Bill Hansen participate in a ribbon-cutting during a ceremony celebrating the new partnership Monday afternoon at the Memorial Union in Tempe. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


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What do teachers want? 9,000 of them respond

What do teachers want? 9,000 of them responded to an ASU professor's survey.
May 17, 2016

ASU professor's survey finds that educators value intrinsic rewards of teaching

School’s almost out, kids — be sure to thank your teachers as you head off to summer.

They really need to hear it, according to a new survey by a professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University.

“Having a student thank you for assisting in the understanding of a difficult concept” was listed as the No. 1 incentive by teachers in the study by Craig Mertler, an associate professor in the Division of Educational Leadership and Innovation at ASU’s West campus.

That was followed by: “observing vast improvements in your student performance since the beginning of the year,” “being permitted to purchase additional equipment, technology or supplies for your classroom” and a one-time monetary award.

“One of the broad conclusions I drew is that teachers want to be recognized for doing a job that lot of people wouldn’t be able to do,” Mertler said.

He set out to discover what teachers liked and didn’t like about their jobs. With the help of the state Department of Education, he sent his 70-question online survey to 51,000 district and charter-school teachers in Arizona last fall. He got replies from about 10,500 of them. After voiding the forms that were incomplete, he was left with 9,053 good responses. That’s a whopping 18 percent return rate.

“I’ve done a lot of survey research with teachers, and sometimes you’re lucky to get a 5 percent response,” said Mertler, who noted that teachers can’t be glued to their e-mail all day. His research was published this month in the journal International Research in Higher Education.

About 25 percent of teachers who responded said they were dissatisfied with their jobs — a number similar to several other recent surveys, he said. About 58 percent said they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied,” with the rest neutral.

Elementary-school teachers reported slightly higher levels of dissatisfaction than high-school teachers, and Mertler hypothesized that the increase in standardized testing was behind that result.

“Elementary-school teachers used to have autonomy to teach, but now so much is scripted out for them,” he said. “They say ‘on this date this is where you should be on your instruction’ to get to that April testing date.

“A lot of elementary teachers find that frustrating.”

Mertler asked teachers to rank job factors from “highly motivating” to “highly unmotivating.” “Sense of achievement” and “interpersonal relationships with students” were cited by more than 90 percent of teachers as the top motivators. Those were followed by recognition, interpersonal relationships with colleagues, responsibility, potential for professional growth, the work itself, working conditions, job security and salary.

“Teachers everywhere — including those in Arizona, as evidenced in this study — are motivated intrinsically by the joy they experience in helping their student learn, grow and develop as children and young adults,” Mertler wrote in the journal article.

Although salary ranked 10th as a motivator, teachers did tell Mertler that a higher salary would be the most likely reason to leave the profession as well as the highest-ranked factor in getting them to stay in the classroom.

One factor that 70 percent of teachers listed as a potential incentive is a type of professional development that Mertler will study next.

“Classroom-based action research” is a systematic program that uses data to create improvements in the classroom that are personalized for the teacher and the students.

“One of the things that teachers have not been happy with for years is the professional development they get, which is often is one-size-fits-all or pre-packaged,” said Mertler, who teaches the method and wrote the book “Action Research: Improving Schools and Empowering Educators.”

“In action research, they’re doing research on themselves and on their own students. They know it will fit because it was designed by them,” he said.

Mertler is seeking a grant to train teachers in Arizona in how to incorporate action research.

“This is a mechanism that empowers teachers,” he said.

“It gives them a level of responsibility in the classroom, which is one of the intrinsic rewards of teaching.”

Read more: Ways ASU is innovating teacher education

• ASU expands teachers' technology tool kit
• Educators flock to Phoenix to learn how ASU trains teachers to succeed
• ASU receives grant to immerse teacher candidates in communities

Top photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News