Form Cohort Groups in Freshmen General Education Classes, Within Dorms, In Majors

(Annual Quality Initiative)

 

Current Facilitators: Dave Fuller, Adam Valencia

 

August 18, 2001 -- Opening Faculty and Staff Meeting
Project identified
"Our group discussed the idea of forming cohort groups primarily among freshmen in which they would be scheduled for the same general education courses at the same times. We felt this could instill a sense of camaraderie among the students. They would get to know each other well, feel comfortable in class discussions and form effective study groups. We believed it could help students to learn as well as to retain new students." (D. Morlok, R. Feuerbacher, K. Hawlitschka, K. Hill, J. Novotny, K. Roeber, L. Schroeder, R. Vick)

 

September 24, 2001 -- Project priority assigned

 

October 4, 2001 -- AQIP Meeting
Initial discussion about prioritized results

 

November 2, 2001 -- AQIP Meeting
Facilitators assigned: Dave Fuller, Adam Valencia

 

November 15, 2001 -- First Quality Team Meeting, 3:30 p.m., Hahn Board RoomIndividuals present: Lin Brummels, Barb Engebretsen, Roger Feuerbacher, David Fuller, Jean Karlen, Monica Snowden, Adam Valencia, Deborah Whitt.

 

Questions

-- Is this course or experience different from Succeeding in College, which is targeted to at-risk students?
-- Will a single course be appropriate for all students?
-- How would one advise students into such a course or experience?
-- What are we really after?
-- Is this a structured academic experience or a social experience?
-- How will such experiences or courses work for students who work many hours and commute?

 

Characteristics

  1. First-Year Cohort
    First-year advising cohorts (cp. Creighton's advising cohorts).
    Cohort concept is beneficial.
  2. Related to a Major or School
    An optional course related to one's major or general school (e.g., math/science).
    Every major could have a club.
    Micro-groups within a department providing special training from a mentor, such as for writing.
    Cohorts organized in academic schools, dealing with shared ideas and special foci; providing special activities for freshmen courses.
    Introduce students to technical features of a school's field; scholarship, history, research, etc.
  3. Activity based
    Courses including leadership activities
    Working together on projects outside of class to take action.
    Linking activities in class to something outside of class.
    Involves off-campus experience.
  4. Learning Community Courses and Residence Halls
    Experience/course is organized with residence hall living.
    Learning community model is effective.
    Residence hall connection is important; possibly majors assigned in areas in residence halls.
    Upper-level students linked with lower-level students in residence halls.
    Connecting the RA to the learning community.
    Many types of learning community models (classes, residence halls, topics, themes, categories).
    Connected to academic experience/work.
    Expectations for experience explained beforehand.
  5. Students leading students
    Cohorts within majors, linking freshmen to dynamic seniors.
    Promoting the idea of students encouraging other students.
    More initiatives and involvement by graduate students.
  6. Theme or Topic based
    Centered around communication skills (writing, speaking, reading).
    Establish a grouping of courses to satisfy a range of general education courses and requirements (implies a general education revision).
  7. Logistics
    Student self-selects by place, theme, etc.
    Maybe a variety of models, including Succeeding in College, learning community courses, etc.
    Team-taught.
    Perhaps a series of courses, in which the courses are separated by breaks.
    Courses centered on and driven by a theme.
    Courses are scheduled back-to-back.
    Courses linked, involving shared assignments, readings, work.

 

Benefits

Students think they are special.
Students make connections and establish relationships.
Helping students connect to others and to the College.
Allowing a student to network with others and feel like they belong to WSC (be part of a group).
Enhanced retention.
Showing students relationships between academic areas.
Establishing relationships with others and faculty.

 

Disadvantages

Tremendous amount of work for faculty.
Cost.
Organization and scheduling are challenging.

 

Models

WSC pilot courses
Iowa State Learning Community Program is notable.
Iowa State potential collaborations and course exchanges (via distance learning).

 

December 6, 2001 -- Quality Team Meeting, 3:30 p.m., Hahn Board Room

 

Links

Contact Info

Michael Anderson
Vice President for Academic Affairs
402-375-7208
miander1@wsc.edu

Sue Sydow
Director of Assessment/
Accreditation Liaison Officer (ALO) AQIP
402-375-7197
susydow1@wsc.edu


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