WiGROW Conversation FAQs

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

What if a student is having trouble with basic needs?

  • Listen with empathy. The student is always more important than the agenda/list of questions.
  • Connect students to Basic Needs Resources and, as you see appropriate, offer to be there with them as they reach out.
  • Consider reporting a student-of-concern to the Dean of Student’s office so that they can follow up with personal support.

What if one of my students is splitting time with another department because of COVID?

  • Communicate with the other department to determine who will be having the WiGROW conversation.
  • If this is not possible, assume that you are having the WiGROW conversation with anyone your department has hired or anyone who is spending the majority of their work hours in your department.
  • These students are getting a crash course in learning on-the-job and being flexible. Consider reflecting on this and how students can represent it on their resume during your WiGROW conversations.

How do we have socially distant or virtual conversations in a meaningful way?

  • Spend more time on the first question and catching up. Be prepared to have students arrive to the conversation with additional stress this year.
  • Pay special attention to nonverbals. Whether wearing masks or talking through screens, it will be harder to pick up on these naturally.
  • Confirm understanding by saying things like, “I’m hearing you say…” or “Am I understanding you correctly that you’re saying…” Our words can easily become muffled or be misheard.
  • Offer an opportunity for students to follow up if they have additional thoughts or want to continue the conversation later.

What if a student doesn't want to talk?

  • Give them time. These questions require deep thinking. If you’re not sure how long to wait, count to 30 in your head, and then ask if they’d like time to think, for you to repeat the question, or to move onto another question and come back to it.
  • Acknowledge it. “You seem quiet today. How are you?”
  • Make sure the space you’re in is one where students feel safe and comfortable.
  • Try a different question. There is a whole list of alternatives!

What if a student isn't sure of how they’re learning?

  • It’s best if students identify the skills rather than us suggesting them. Ask them about a time when they had to ask for help, were unsure of what to do and figured it out, or did something well. Then ask what skills they used in those situations.
  • If students really struggle, suggest a skill that you have seen them display, or that other students often cite as one they learn on the job.
  • Ask specifically about skills like time-management, relationship development, quality control, sense of humor, empathy, communication, or other skills.

What if I'm already having these conversations?

  • That’s great news! WiGROW will come naturally to you. If you are already having non-evaluative conversations at dedicated times with your students, keep doing so and simply incorporate the WiGROW questions.
  • If the conversations you are having are similar, but are more focused on daily work than learning or are not neutral, add in WiGROW conversations at a dedicated time. The relationships you’ve developed through these other conversations will make your WiGROW conversations even more meaningful.

What if I don’t have enough time?

  • Approach your department about allowing group conversations (to speak with 3 – 6 students at the same time) or to allow conversations while conducting daily work. Remember to prioritize the student’s reflection over efficiency.
  • Train students who are supervisors to conduct WiGROW conversations.
  • If there are other staff who assist with daily supervision or mentorship of students and would be well suited to having this conversation, ask your department if they can conduct some WiGROW conversations.

How do I have a group WiGROW conversation well?

  • Plan to spend more time in a group conversation than you would on an individual conversation (Instead of 15 minutes, plan for 30).
  • Ask the group to each introduce/reintroduce themselves.
  • Ask one question at a time.
  • Consider using “think, pair, share”, having students think about the question, pair up with a partner to talk, and then share one observation with the group.
  • If having students answer in pairs, give them a time limit and prompt them to switch and half way.
  • If having all students share with the large group, make sure each student replies to the question or builds off another student’s answer.
  • If a student doesn’t have an answer to the question, ask them a follow up question like “Did you hear someone answer in a way that felt true for you too? How come?”.
  • If a student seems disengaged, they might not be comfortable with the group. Follow up with them after one-on-one.

Where should I have WiGROW conversations?

  • Look for a space with minimal distractions (quieter and less activity is better).
  • Some students may be more comfortable in a space that is familiar. A corner of a larger room where they work could lead to richer conversations than a conference room that feels foreign.
  • Some students may want privacy. Some students may be more comfortable with other people around. Give the student options and ask them where they might like to meet.
  • If you’re meeting in a separate room, let the student decide if the door is open or closed.

Have additional questions? Email us at student.employment@finaid.wisc.edu