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UNI studies school settings with Back-to-School project

October 16, 2013

Amelia Holden-McMurray, communications and marketing coordinator, College of Education, 319-273-3214,

Lindsay Cunningham, Office of University Relations, 319-273-6728,

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – The University of Northern Iowa hosted a project on Wednesday, Oct. 16, that gave participants an authentic experience as a high school student.

Back-to-School gave a small group of UNI teacher educators, business leaders and legislators the opportunity to gain authentic experiences in Cedar Valley high schools in order to become better informed about college, careers and citizenry readiness. Participants were paired with a student and observed all the things their student did during the day, such as take tests or participate in class projects.

"I saw students who were engaged and classes that were relevant to life," said Elizabeth Zwanziger, assistant professor of languages. "It's important to make students life-ready, whether or not they're college bound."

Based on participation, debriefing and consultation, a report will be created to capture findings about college, careers and citizenry readiness. Findings will be used in crafting school and college programming, employment training and educational policy.

"This was a great experience," said Sen. Bill Dotzler. "Any time you can spend time with students is worthwhile and eye-opening. I saw students working on an issue back and forth with one another. They were respectful, and they were building their communication and people skills."

For more information about the Back-to-School project, contact Amelia Holden-McMurray, communications and marketing coordinator for the College of Education, at 319-273-2314 or