Creating Innovative Opportunities for Interpreter Education Program Graduates: Transitioning to the Professional World

iCORE Logo (Innovative & Creative Opportunities for Research & Education)Creating Innovative Opportunities for Interpreter Education Program Graduates:

Transitioning to the Professional World

Amanda R. Smith, Pamela D. Cancel, and Elisa M. Maroney with contributions from Jennifer Borchers, Jenna Curtis, Vicki Darden, Erin Trine, and Robin Van Dusen
Western Oregon University
 
Abstract
Beginning in the summer of 2012, Western Oregon University’s interpreter education program began implementing an innovative initiative, Professional Supervision for Interpreting Practice, designed to ease new graduates into the sometimes tempestuous waters of the interpreting profession. This article provides an introduction to this initiative, the rationale, design, and personal experiences of participants during a pilot run in 2012. Preliminary findings are discussed with regard to the efficacy of structured mentoring and supervision within a demand control schema framework.
 
Introduction
There is much discussion within the field of interpreting regarding the “gap” or the difference between skills of recent interpreter education program graduates and the skills necessary for entry-level interpreter work. Historically, Interpreter Education Program faculty have relied upon anecdotal data to determine whether or not programs are addressing this gap (Maroney & Smith, 2010). The “gap” in the field of interpreting is also noted, at times, by the difference between the academic environment, where pre-professional interpreters learn foundational theory about the profession, and the working world in which the theories are put into practice. Oftentimes, the narrative in the field differs from the narrative in academia resulting in a transition shock for new interpreters entering the field. This is due in large part to the evolution of understanding about the practice of interpreting. The research and scholarship about the field often occurs in academic settings, while interpreters practice in real time, responding to authentic demands as they occur in the field.
This creates a gap between de facto (actual) practice and the prevailing rhetoric or belief system regarding how that profession conducts its work. When significant gaps exist between rhetoric and de facto practice, dangers of unexamined, unregulated, and unethical practice increase. (Dean & Pollard, 2004, p. 264)
These two “gaps,” in perceived skill-level and readiness-to-work, and in theory versus practice create a challenging dilemma for the new interpreter. They can no longer rely upon the supportive, safe environment of schooling and academia, and yet they have not set up the necessary supports and confidence for working in authentic settings. A bridge is needed.
In order to determine the existence and extent of the gap in skill-level, Western Oregon University (WOU) Interpreter Education Program faculty began conducting a research project to collect program graduate results on two national testing instruments, the RID-NAD National Interpreter Certification (NIC) examination and the Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment (EIPA). Qualitative data were also collected on participant reactions and feelings about certification, entry to the field, and their reception as newly certified, entry-level interpreters by the professional interpreting community. The passing rate for these national exams was impressive, yet graduates still reported needing more support as they transitioned from school to work.
 
In response to the gap in support, the ASL/English Interpreting program at WOU has instituted an innovative initiative, Professional Supervision for Interpreting Practice (PSIP), in which program graduates participate in a one-year extended field experience. They engage in regular supervision sessions of constructive dialogue about the work of interpreting with the goal of improving the work product. The supervision model is based on the constructs of the demand-control schema (DC-S) (Dean & Pollard, 2001).  In addition to regular supervision sessions, participants are also paired with a mentor to work with individually. Professional interpreters from the community, who may or may not have experience with DC-S, are recruited to participate as mentors. If community members are interested in being trained as supervision leaders, they must have a background in DC-S and experience with supervision. The goal of this one-year program is to provide continued, structured support to graduates as they enter the workforce as professional interpreters. Graduates of WOU’s program are grounded in DC-S. They are familiar with the use of supervision as a means of reflective practice and participate in supervision throughout the program, particularly during practicum and internship. The framework of DC-S is foundational to the way WOU faculty and students conceptualize the work of interpreting.
Rationale for and Design of the Program
The transition from school to professional work is not an easy one. Many recent graduates and professionals accept this as common practice, a reality of the job, not recognizing they have the power to change the status quo. They may rationalize their stance by asserting that students or new interpreters need to “pay their dues” much in the way previous generations did. The idea that the only legitimate way to become a professional interpreter is through the “school of hard knocks,” is sometimes perpetuated by the community at large with the lack of regard and respect garnered to new interpreters and the lack of investment the community has in pre-professional interpreters. At WOU’s ASL/English Interpreting program, faculty believe the transition from school to work can be a guided transition; thus, smoothing the path for both new interpreters and the community preparing to embrace them.
In all professions, induction is a challenging time on one’s career path, usually marked by a significant amount of trial and error. However, as Schön (1987) indicates in his book, Educating the Reflective Practitioner, “…the trials are not randomly related to one another; reflection on each trial and its results sets the stage for the next trial” (p. 27).  The trials and errors need to be purposeful; however, students or new interpreters often deal with cases that were never even considered during their training. “The case is not ‘in the book.’ If [the interpreter] is to deal with it competently, she must do so by a kind of improvisation, inventing and testing in the situation strategies of her own devising” (Schön, p. 5). This improvisation on one’s own is dangerous territory particularly with a lack of “real world” experience. Thus newer interpreters need to be surrounded by a community working in collaboration with experienced interpreters who can speak into their work in a positive, encouraging, and constructive way. Kiraly (2000) talks about this in the conclusion of his book, A Social Constructivist Approach to Translator Education,
…collaboration, I believe, is the fundamental basis for authentic work and learning, a tool for getting students involved in the dialogue that constitutes the translator’s profession, for turning inert knowledge into active intersubjective knowing, and for introducing students to the kinds of team-work they can be sure to be involved in after they graduate. This belief in the value of collaboration also reflects an underlying approach to education as a commitment to the many facets of ‘community.’ (p. 194)
Much of Dean and Pollard’s work on the DC-S and its application to interpreting work has been influenced by the practice of mental health professionals who use supervision as a means for exploring cases for which there are no easy answers. The practice of supervision as conducted in the PSIP program is based upon Dean and Pollard’s work and the DC-S constructs are employed as a foundation of common understanding around the work. In their article on training mental health interpreters, they explain supervision in this way,
In the mental health profession, the term supervision refers not to “oversight by one’s boss” or other such punitive concepts, but to discussions between practicing professionals (whether or not they are peers in terms of work experience or where they fit on the employment hierarchy), aimed at furthering the effectiveness of one of the professional’s work. (Dean & Pollard, 2004)
 
 
 
Design of PSIP
Figure 1. Design of PSIP
As the figure above demonstrates, for one year, post graduation (July – June), graduates will participate in the PSIP program consisting of individual work with an assigned mentor (a minimum of 2 hours per month) and monthly group supervision sessions. The supervision sessions are comprised of experienced interpreters who act as mentors and/or supervision leaders, and the recent graduates.
Who's who in the PSIP?
Figure 2. Who’s Who in PSIP? 
 
Supervision Leaders
In recruiting for supervision leaders, it was important that the applicants have a strong foundation in the demand control schema and had participated in supervision previously. Because the use of supervision is not widespread or systematized yet, graduates from WOU’s program since 2009 were recruited. Eight supervision leaders were identified for participation in the PSIP program and range in years of interpreting experience from one year to 20 plus years. All are graduates of WOU’s program (in one of its many iterations over the years) and have participated in supervision for a number of years either as students or community members. Supervision leaders are located across the northwest.
Mentors
Mentors for this program needed to have five or more years of experience, particularly in educational (K-12) settings, be credentialed in some way (EIPA or NIC), and indicated some experience with mentoring (not necessarily as the mentor). Eight mentors were selected to participate in this program and to become trained as mentors. The mentors are from various geographic locations throughout the US.
Recent Graduates
For the pilot year of this initiative, students who were approaching graduation were asked if they were interested in being involved in PSIP. Six agreed to participate and committed to the yearlong program. These six graduates all earned a Bachelor’s degree in ASL/English Interpreting from WOU in June 2012. Their background and foundation in theories of interpreting work is based on literature and practice of signed and spoken language interpreters and translators. They have studied models for analyzing their work and they have been asked to reflect on their meaning transfer work regularly, employing a variety of interpreting models. These students have a strong understanding of the demands of interpreting work, how to recognize them and how to articulate them. Controls to employ during work in response to the demands recognized continue to develop and have been increased by observation of working interpreters, analysis of their own practice in practicum and internship, and participating in supervision with their classmates throughout the program.
 
Tending the Flames of Knowledge
Jennifer Borchers, Mentee
 
…Interpreters can also benefit from open dialogue with their colleagues and by seeking out valuable mentoring experience. Interpreters can track successful progress in their careers through regular reflection on which actions and variables have led to successful outcomes and which may have led to less desirable results. This reflection is critical for interpreters to advance their skills, attitudes and knowledge in their chosen field. (Janzen & Korpiniski, 2005, p. 191)
 
My name is Jennifer Borchers and I serve as a recent graduate Mentee in the Professional Supervision for Interpreting Practice (PSIP) program. I graduated in June 2012. When this program was presented to the recent graduates I knew it would be a vital piece in the successful transition from my Interpreter Education Program (IEP) to the professional world. I value having the opportunity to hear other professional’s thoughts, control options, and even similar experiences; all the while feeling safe in a confidential and professional atmosphere.
 
Since the beginning of the PSIP program, I have seen growth in regards to reactions concerning demands of the job, finding new controls and having the capability to actively participate in work-related dialogue during supervision sessions. I have developed the tools to have effective self-reflection before, during, and/or after my work. I have become accountable for my decisions and have the confidence, paired with resources, to justify those decisions.
 
A crucial resource supplied through the PSIP program is my mentor. I had a great mentoring experience during my internship, but I left with the feeling of wanting more. I wanted more resources, more time, and more guidance. I have a “designated” mentor I meet with separate from the supervision meetings. That relationship has become a great place for me to go when I need to reflect on work decisions or externally process demands and controls. I have noticed my depth of discussion has increased since beginning this mentorship as well as my ability to reach out to my mentor with questions about anything work-related.
 
I was not ready for my education to end when I graduated from my IEP.  My passion for the profession is burning and it is not ready to be extinguished. The PSIP program has only added fuel to the fire and given me the resources, tools, and skills needed to tend the flame.
 
Training of Supervision Leaders
Training Supervisors
Upon recruiting qualified candidates to become supervision leaders, an all-day training was offered. To be “qualified” to serve as a supervision leader, candidates were expected to be familiar with the demand-control schema and have prior experience participating in supervision. The training consisted of clarifying demand categories, control categories, and differentiating between demands and controls. The remainder of the training consisted of practice supervision sessions. Initially the trainer, Smith, led the sessions and then eventually participants began taking over in pairs to gain experience in leading supervision. By the end of the day, all participants had gained experience in sharing a case and co-leading a case.
The best way to learn supervision is through doing supervision. Supervision leader training continued by practicing with authentic cases and professional interpreter mentors. These mentors were invited to attend sessions led by supervision leader trainees. Embedded in this experience was opportunity for the leaders to observe one another leading supervision. Supervision leaders gained experience and confidence, while mentors gained an appreciation for sharing cases of their own interpreting work using the constructs of DC-S.
As a supervision leader, the years of experience interpreting are secondary in importance to the command one possesses of the demand-control schema constructs and supervision principles. For example, one of the supervision leaders graduated approximately one year ago from WOU’s program, where she gained a firm understanding of DC-S and the principles of supervision.  Though she does not currently have the years of interpreting experience that other leaders bring, she is one of the most effective leaders of supervision.
The eight supervision leaders, with varying years of experience, create a unique opportunity for intergenerational communication and collaboration where the playing field is truly leveled. The benefits of this arrangement have been evident from both ends of the experience spectrum; there have been opportunities to respect and acknowledge the skills that each unique supervision leader brings to the experience.
Each month after the supervision sessions, supervision leaders stay to discuss the effectiveness of the supervision sessions. Smith shares her observations and poses questions to explore strategies for effective leading on a deeper level. Leaders share their reflections of their own process as well as observations of others they co-lead or observed. This process, similar to the value of supervision for interpreting work, allows the group to recognize the complexities of leading supervision, share strategies, and identify controls to employ in future sessions with similar demand patterns. During this session, the identification of areas in which recent graduates tend to seek supervision is also discussed. This allows for data to be collected and reported back to the program about potential gaps in curriculum and/or recognition that there are areas of need for those in transition. This means, in the future, these areas can be more directly addressed.
In PSIP sessions, role-playing is an important aspect as supervision leaders explore the realities of working with people and trying to help them in the most constructive way possible. The idea of opening and closing sessions, validating case-givers, focusing the discussion on constructive dialogue, and brainstorming without evaluating are all discussed, among other topics. These supervision-of-supervision sessions have also identified needs for additional training of the leaders in areas such as distinguishing demands from controls, articulating the main demand clearly, keeping ones own bias at bay, and probing for the information needed to move the discussion along.
Supervision is a new venture in the field of interpreting and the training of supervision leaders is even newer. The process of supervision of supervision has uncovered a number of principles of supervision that are not necessarily overtly taught, but, rather, those principles have come about organically among supervision leaders. For example, as more supervision leaders are trained, it is becoming clear which areas of the process are standard and necessary and which parts are open to individual interpretation. Each of the leaders in this study is working to develop her own “voice” as a leader, taking ownership of the process and not relying on being like anyone else. This is an exciting process to observe. As more and more leaders are becoming comfortable, there are more to speak about the process and share ideas from a place of confidence.
 
Supervision Practice: Benefiting Individually and Collectively
Jenna Curtis, Supervision Leader

The Professional Supervision for Interpreting Practice supervision leader trainings and the actual practice of leading supervision sessions have helped me to develop skills that allow me to lead more effective sessions. It also has been an essential part of my professional development plan, directly improving my own work in the interpreting field.

Through PSIP, I have gained a better grasp on the demand control schema and how to effectively implement the supervision structure to help interpreters analyze their work. I am better equipped for guiding case-givers through the process, allowing them to get what they need out of the session and providing an opportunity to view their work through a more objective framework. I have also learned how to point out to participants that insights gained from a particular supervision case can have wider application.

The training and leading of sessions has also helped me to improve my own professional practice. I find that every control option discussed during a session can be beneficial in my own work, whether it is a control I can employ immediately or one that I could consider using in the future. I feel confident using the DCCRD (Demand-Control-Consequences-Resulting Demand) structure to analyze my own work and to aid me in processing complex situations. As a recent graduate and new interpreter, it is an essential tool that helps me to continue growing and developing as a practitioner.

Attending the monthly supervision sessions has allowed me to expand my professional network. I feel I can utilize this support system of colleagues to engage in additional supervision sessions, debrief, or simply to brainstorm control options. During the sessions I have an opportunity to hear the perspective of other interpreters, who work in a variety of settings, and gain exposure to their areas of expertise. I find that this diverse group encourages me to broaden my understanding of our work and challenges some of my perspectives. Several of my colleagues are involved with this program as supervision leaders, mentors, or mentees. We are able to take what we have learned from the trainings and sessions and share these insights with our larger group of interpreters.

Through PSIP, I have become more confident leading effective supervision sessions. The sessions and trainings have also been a wonderful tool to help me improve my own interpreting work. I am proud to take part in a project that provides interpreters with a much-needed professional outlet to constructively analyze our work and decision making processes.

 
Training of Mentors
If you want to go fast…go alone. If you want to go far…go together.
                                                                                                        African Proverb
Mentoring is not a new concept to the field of interpreting. As the mentor trainer, Cancel has had an opportunity to be involved in this innovative program designed to give recent graduates from interpreter education programs not only the support they need to continue developing their skills, but also the chance to thrive with the skills they already possess. The initial three-hour training served as an orientation to the program as well as to the concept of mentoring, in general. In keeping with best practices of adult learning, the mentors are then provided monthly training as a means of on-going growth, as well as to answer any questions or concerns that may come up when dealing with the mentee with whom they have been paired.
During the course of developing the PSIP mentor training materials, Cancel found it necessary to adapt and/or develop original materials for “mentors-in-training.” Although she found the general mentoring materials sometimes more than adequate when it comes to how to establish, maintain, and move through the mentoring cycle, those same materials are lacking in scenarios specific to the interpreting field.
One original development is the A.C.O.R.N. method of questioning created by Pamela Cancel (personal communication, July 28, 2012). ACORN is an acronym for Allow, Cull, Organize, Revisit, and Nail Down. One of the core skills an effective mentor can have is the ability to ask questions in a way that encourages the mentee to reflect upon his or her work in a meaningful way. This framework also ensures that the mentor does not become “the one” with the answer, but remains a true guide in helping the mentee uncover the answers being sought.
During this pilot period, the mentors have had the opportunity to work with mentees, and are already developing strategies for dealing with challenges that may arise with future participants. In speaking with the mentors, establishing a separate training for mentees would be helpful. The purpose of this training would be to equip the mentees with the tools required for being an effective partner in the mentoring relationship. We look forward to full implementation of the program with 2013 graduates, and expect to continue refining our goals and outcomes as the program progresses. In the spirit of the African proverb above, we intend to take those who join us as far as we can go on this journey together.
 
When You Teach a Man (or a Woman) to Fish: Welcoming New Colleagues
Erin Trine, Mentor

As a mentor in PSIP, I have the opportunity to work with recent graduates in supervision and to interact with the graduate I am mentoring individually.  It has been inspiring to watch this new interpreter feel empowered by sharing in supervision and then transferring that experience to her work.  I believe that our supervision sessions provide incredible support for participants, regardless of role.  This process models to recent graduates (and reminds the rest of us) that our work is hard and requires continual reflection and commitment; we never “arrive” at a level of proficiency where all aspects of our work are easy.  In my opinion, the solidarity and validation that comes from supervision has a profound liberating impact on everyone involved.  Recent graduates see more seasoned interpreters relate to their experiences with empathy and treat them as peers.

Supervision provides a forum where sharing a difficult situation or admitting that we do not have all the answers marks individuals as members of the group rather than “newbies” who have a lot to learn.  The truth is that none of us have all the answers and we all need support from our colleagues.  For me, this is one of the most powerful things about supervision in the PSIP program.  It creates an environment that starkly contrasts with stereotypes about our profession and supports interpreters through their insecurities so they can make the best decisions and provide the best services possible.

One of the ways this is accomplished is by expecting recent graduates to take responsibility for their decisions and trusting them to do so. Recent graduates are not told what to do by mentors and supervision leaders.  They are asked questions, offered options, and encouraged to reciprocate by participating in this kind of professional dialogue. Ultimately, it is their responsibility to determine the best course of action. They do not use mentors or supervision leaders as scapegoats by simply doing what they advise. In this way, recent graduates are supported in their first year as professionals, not controlled. I have already seen evidence in my own mentoring relationship that this approach assists recent graduates in trusting themselves to make decisions and in becoming capable members of the profession.

Data Collection
This program has only just begun but already there is data to suggest common themes of supervision among recent graduates, skills necessary for supervision, and perceived levels of competence in one’s work as a new interpreter. Since November 2011, the supervision leaders have received 39 hours of practice and training in leading supervision sessions. Mentors have received approximately 10 hours of training and supervision around mentorship and participated in 22 hours of supervision. Recent graduates have participated in 14 hours of supervision and 14 hours of mentorship.
There have been 14 cases shared by graduates since July 2012 and recurring themes have included how to handle interpersonal and intrapersonal demands. We explored questions such as how to respond when asked to do something outside of one’s comfort zone, how to gracefully transition from pre-professional to professional, how to handle differences of opinion among team interpreters, how to respond to intrapersonal feelings of inadequacy, navigating relationships with more experienced interpreters, and how to handle pro bono work requests, to name a few. Very few questions have been related to actual meaning transfer work, and there have been no instances of, “how do you sign….?” This could lead to a number of conclusions:

  1. Newer interpreters are so pre-occupied with all of the “other” skills needed to successfully navigate the professional world of interpreting that there is no extra mental energy to attend to meaning transfer questions,
  2. Newer interpreters do not struggle with meaning transfer primarily,
  3. The program prepared students to work through meaning transfer challenges adequately, but students still struggle with the interpersonal demands of interpreting, or
  4. A combination of all of the above plus potential other reasons.

Being familiar with the program and the use of scenarios and hypothetical situations presented to students, it is clear that students in their pre-professional world did become aware of various interpersonal issues, but there is a disconnect, it seems, between hypothetical scenarios and real world application. Maybe the meaning transfer work is all about the professional communication and co-construction of meaning (Wilcox & Shaffer, 2005). Through supervision, once interpreters are out in the “real world,” they “will learn relevant facts and operations, but will also learn the forms of inquiry by which competent practitioners reason their way, in problematic instances, to clear connections between general knowledge and particular cases” (Schön, 1987, p. 39).
In the supervision sessions with recent graduates, after brainstorming multiple control options, there have been opportunities to participate in role play activities to help articulate what needs to be said, practice it in a respectful manner, and have the experience of engaging in difficult dialogue in a safe place. Reports from participants have been positive. It appears to add to their level of confidence in employing some of the more liberal control options that might require a conversation or intervention of some sort. There are definite benefits to the structured supervision process. In addressing the need to be able to think like professionals, Schön (1987) talks about the process of analyzing a problem: “through complementary acts of naming and framing, the practitioner selects things for attention and organizes them, guided by an appreciation of the situation that gives coherence and sets a direction for action” (p. 4).
As evidenced by the contributors to this article, though this program is advertised as a benefit for recent graduates, all of the participants have articulated benefitting from the experience. During the process of supervision, there is frequent discussion by more experienced interpreters about having had similar situations, which validates the recent graduates and helps them to not feel alone while at the same time provides opportunity for the more experienced interpreters to glean ideas for future control options. At the conclusion of almost every case, there is usually a spontaneous comment of gratitude for the discussion of the case and comments indicating that all have benefitted and will employ some of the mentioned control options in their future work.
 
Together, We Enhance the Profession
Vicki Darden, Supervision Leader

As a supervision leader in the Professional Supervision for Interpreting Practice program at Western Oregon University, I am inspired, humbled, and grateful for the experience I have gained, personally and professionally.  I have interpreted professionally for nearly two decades and have worked in several communities.  I have witnessed tremendous change within the Deaf community as a cultural group, and in the way interpreters provide service to that community. Collectively, interpreters generally tend to examine our work for ways to improve as individuals and as a profession. Dean and Pollard’s application and development of the demand control schema (DC-S) for use by interpreters has given us a structured approach for this examination (2001).

My participation in PSIP has catalyzed and supported my professional development. As a practitioner, developing a richer understanding of how to utilize the tools offered by a DC-S approach makes me more prepared to engage in the work of interpreting, and better able to assess my own effectiveness. I believe it makes me a more supportive team to my colleagues, whether they also utilize this approach or not. I am able to anticipate needs and am much more effective at assessing situations and identifying effective practices, not only in retrospect, but proactively, as well.

I am transitioning into the field of interpreter education. As a mentor and educator, the abilities I have gained through PSIP help me guide colleagues and students to self-analysis so they can identify their challenges and successes. When they can analyze their own work, it proves more enlightening and meaningful to them than just being presented with someone else’s assessment of their performance.  It helps them develop their ability to operate independently as professionals when that is necessary, to learn to trust their judgment and decision-making, and to identify the areas which challenge them.

New interpreters are entering a different professional landscape than I did in the early 1990s. Leading supervision sessions gives me a greater understanding of the challenges they face, and the type of support they feel they need. I can use this knowledge to inform my teaching and curriculum development, thereby contributing to more capable and effective practitioners entering the profession.

Each case is unique in its complexity or level of significance; some are relatively mundane or procedural and some are overwhelming in their impact on the interpreter and consumers. Professionally, but also personally, I have been honored to lead several cases that have led to real insight, transformation, and relief for colleagues burdened by an emotional or difficult experience. When this happens, it feels a bit magical for those involved, as though it lifts the whole profession.  Perhaps that is the true gift of PSIP, that it not only brings support to the individual practitioner, but that it provides a venue where together we can contribute to real and necessary work that elevates our profession, improves the quality of our work, and enhances the experiences of our colleagues and consumers.

 
Conclusion
At the end of the one-year cycle, students will receive a stipend to retake the Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment (EIPA). The results from these tests will assist in answering the question of whether this type of regular engagement in reflective practice does indeed impact the quality of meaning transfer work among these recent graduates. The EIPA focuses on meaning transfer in educational (K-12) settings exclusively. To assess the effectiveness of this program in impacting professional development of the interpreters involved, satisfaction surveys are collected after each supervision session with questions geared toward the various participants. Supervision leaders are asked about their effectiveness in their role and what supports they need, while mentors and recent graduates are asked about the effectiveness of the session in increasing the number of controls they have in their “tool box” and their confidence in employing those controls. Additionally, mentors complete evaluation forms reporting on mentee’s progress throughout the program. All of these data will be compiled and analyzed for themes, strengths, opportunities for growth, and overall effectiveness of the program in meeting this need in the community. If we are able to show that supervision is an effective way to transition from school to work, our goals will be to increase the number of supervision leaders to facilitate more groups and to promote a culture of supervision within the interpreting community.
Much of our work as interpreters and interpreter educators revolves around the ability to transfer meaning between two languages. That is a critical component of the job and yet, at the same time, there are other aspects of being a professional, such as reflective practice, interpersonal skills, the ability to make and justify decisions, and navigating various working relationships successfully. While we have designed this study to look at the impact of regular mentoring and supervision on meaning transfer, there is room to acknowledge the other critical components of being a professional and intentionally working to improve those areas.
 
Making a Difference
Robin Van Dusen, Supervision Leader

I am a supervision leader in the PSIP program. I graduated from Western Oregon University in 2009. You could say that I grew up with Dean and Pollard’s demand control schema. It was at the core of everything we did in the interpreter education program at WOU. When I heard about PSIP I was so excited to have the opportunity to share the gift of supervision with others. The PSIP program has been such a benefit to me as an interpreter. I am more confident with my interpreting decision-making as well as my ability to lead supervision. I started out having a good foundation of demand control schema, but very nervous about how to lead someone through supervision. As I have gotten more experience leading supervision I have gotten much more comfortable. I went from feeling like I needed to improve on everything to feeling like I can basically do it on my own and just need to do some fine-tuning.

All the tips and tricks that we get for helping move the session along and for helping interpreters get what they need out of the session really helps me to fine tune my leading of supervision. Just before I lead a session, I always read through my list of tips so that they are at the forefront of my mind. That has been very successful for me. It has also been very helpful to be able to see so many of the different forms that supervision can take. It is beneficial to still have support to help lead the session if I get stuck or have questions. I have truly grown to love supervision! I love receiving supervision and I love leading it! I hope that supervision continues to catch on and that it can be recognized as professional development nationally. Regardless of supervision being recognized as professional development, I am living proof of how supervision can make a difference in the career of an interpreter.

 
About the Authors
Amanda Smith has been an Assistant Professor at Western Oregon University since 2007. She coordinates and teaches in the undergraduate ASL/English Interpreting program and the Master of Arts in Interpreting Studies program. In 2007, Smith completed her MA in Interpreter Pedagogy at Northeastern University. Over the years, she has specialized in post-secondary interpreting (post-graduate coursework) and then in 2004 began pursuing an additional specialization in legal interpreting. Through the course of her career, Smith has worn multiple hats in addition to interpreter, including that of mentor, faculty member, RSA project coordinator, and trainer. She has found that from all angles, this work is fascinating and fulfilling.
 
Pamela Cancel (MS, CI, CT, NAD V) is an Assistant Professor in the ASL/English Interpreting Program at Western Oregon University. She has been interpreting professionally for over 20 years. She received her B.A. in Interpretation: ASL/English from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and her M.S. in Deafness Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Arkansas. She is a national presenter on subjects of multicultural relations, interpreting skills development, and creativity.
 
Elisa M. Maroney completed her Ph.D. in Linguistics at the University of New Mexico in 2004. Her research was on aspect in American Sign Language. Her current research interest is in examining the nature of the gap between graduation and certification. She has been a faculty member in the Division of Special Education since 1993, where she teaches in the undergraduate ASL/English Interpreting program and the Master of Arts in Interpreting Studies program. She serves as the President of the Commission on Collegiate Interpreter Education.
 
Acknowledgements
This project is supported, in part, by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, H325K110246, “ASL/English Interpreting.”
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