Case Study: Using the Ponder Program for weekly Tutor Group

Careers and Pathways Coordinator Joelle McCully joined the Ponder Program when it was first released in early 2022, as she immediately saw the opportunity to use the unique resources in her careers program.

School: Hillcrest Christian College [Queensland, Independent System]

Educator: Joelle McCully (Careers & Pathways Coordinator), Lucinda Crews (Pathways Engagement Coordinator)

Context: 500 students in Senior Learning Community (Years 9-12), majority attending university, with a mix of VET /Direct Employment Pathways

“I was just so impressed with the resources and thought this was an amazing product I could use. There’s nothing else like it in career resources that I’d found [before]”

Study Work Grow member Joelle McCully introduced the Ponder Program at her school as she saw the possibilities for adding an “extra layer” to both Year 9 and Year 10 careers lessons at Hillcrest.

One thing that she said was missing in her current careers framework was “imagination” – in that students weren’t giving themselves permission to “think outside the box” when it came to their possible career choices.

“It actually allowed me to add on to some of the thoughts they had and just engage their minds to be a little more creative in their thought patterns…  [in imagining other career possibilities] …not just careers that have been around along time, but where technology is taking us and where careers are headed in the future.”

To her surprise, students also loved the Job Spotlights in particular, as they introduced them to a wide range of careers that they hadn’t previously thought of.

It’s not enough to just ask them to dream up an opportunity for themselves or imagine the most exciting thing you can, when they don’t know what they are looking for and don’t know what they are dreaming up“.

These helped her to engage with her students and have them consider other roles that could be a possibility.

Using Ponder with her Year 9 students, Joelle found that because she had multiple resources to choose from, she could introduce a lesson to her students, then play a video from Ponder to add context, and then do either an included activity or use her existing materials.

This was particularly effective in delivering careers lessons due to the large groups the students are arranged in during this time – being able to get strong engagement while also having resources available to set as activities.

Students also have weekly time with an educator called Life Skills (Tutor Group), where Ponder was a perfect addition to the content they were teaching to support students’ personal goals.

“We use the Conversation Starters a lot, particularly to get the students engaged… …it just takes a question to start a really engaging conversation with the kids”.

These classes are vertical groups, so each class has a mix of both younger and older students (from each year level in the Senior Learning Community), which has proven to be beneficial in that older students “come alive with passion in talking about their journey towards the end of the high school road” with younger students in their groups.

In this class, having access to Ponder resources means for the educators that they have more time (as little preparation is required) and more engaging content to draw from as needed to support their teaching.

Use of the Career Clusters

Joelle introduced the Career Clusters lessons and quiz to her students in 2023, and one of the most interesting things for her was that students identified not only which of the six clusters they were in, but also which other students shared the same cluster.

Students found that the clusters especially helped them choose one of the modes of study that are taken up in the senior school, while also helping teachers to group older and younger students together in the clusters too.

This has driven inclusivity, understanding, and a sense for students that while their choices are their choices, there are others with similar skills, interests, and motivations as them.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ponder helped her students to “think outside the box” when it comes to career possibilities
  • Used in both Year 9 and Year 10 primarily, but also with older students too
  • Videos are used as a way of ‘breaking up’ careers lessons so that the students are getting a variety of experiences during their time with Joelle and other educators
  • Of the Ponder activities set for students to do in their own time (non-compulsory), Joelle found that about 25% of students were doing them, which she believed to be a positive indication of their level of engagement in the program
  • Ponder is used in vertical classes each week called Life Skills (Tutor Time) where both younger and older students are learning from each other.
  • The Career Clusters quiz has introduced an understanding of different ways of working, while also connecting other students together who are in the same cluster
  • Senior students who had made study choices such as Health sciences felt that the Career Clusters reinforced for them that they were ‘on the right track’

We kindly thank Joelle for her wonderful support of Study Work Grow and the Ponder Program at Hillcrest Christian College and for her time in helping to put together this case study.

If you would like to learn more about the Ponder Program and Career Clusters, check out Essentials here.

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