Minutes from 11-10 Meeting

Attendees: Fred Pierce, Christina Eggenberger, Stephen Davies, Rosemary Barra, JoAnn Schrass, Terry Kennedy, Cedric Rucker, Meagan Holbrook, Rosemary Arneson, Katherine Kisler, Courtney Clayton, Taiwo Ande, Brad Scaggs, Jason Matzke, Tim O'Donnell, Anand Rao, Gwen Hale, Lynne Richardson, Alan Griffith

Alan announced that there are already a number of people going to the SACS annual meeting, so no one else from the Team can go. JoAnn is going to conference on the First Year Experience in February that others may be able to attend.

At the request of a member of the QEP Team, we are now including a list of meeting attendees in the minutes.

At our last meeting, the Team divided into three subgroups. The subgroups met separately, and their reports follow.

Outcomes Subgroup

Jason Matzke reported for this group. He thanked Courtney Clayton for the work she did in developing outcomes for the 5 focus areas agreed upon at our last meeting. The subgroup tried to capture the ideas generated in our earlier discussions, as well as the AACU rubrics (see the tab for Outcomes on this site). Discussion followed. We agreed that we will focus these further as we proceed today.

The outcomes generated by this subgroup will be posted on the blog.

Outside the Box Subgroup

Anand Rao reported for the subgroup charged with thinking outside the box. This group brainstormed a number of ideas and ended up with what Anand called a bag of tricks that might be implemented, depending on how we focus outcomes. All are related but not one dependent on another.

The group arrived as some common assumptions:

1. We should retain the core of the FSEM. This program works, we have faculty buy-in, and we have a model where students have the exposure to a lot of different ideas.

2. We can't overwhelm and over-burden faculty, especially the FSEM faculty, by throwing too much on them.

3. One of the strengths of the FSEM program is its diversity, but some uniformity is a good thing. This uniformity can come by making sure that there are common elements -- not the same assignment, but the same type of assignment. For example, all FSEM students should do some kind of presentation, but the nature of that assignment can vary from course to course.

4. We need to build on our strengths -- take the programs we have that work and build on them.

5. We need to narrow down to a few specific learning outcomes.

The group suggested four approaches:

A. We need to have some way to supplement the FSEM without overburdening faculty. We can do this by developing hybrid modules that can be online. FSEM faculty can incorporate these into the course as they choose, and students can complete them outside of class time. For example, the Speaking Center might create a series of 5 short videos that include tips for effective class discussion, understanding of basic communication process/theory, or how to adapt to an audience. The Writing Center and the Libraries would also create materials to support writing intensive assignments and information literacy. There would also be support material for faculty, including rubrics and sample assignments. This is an idea that could also be developed to help non-FSEM classes in the future.

B. The group's discussion emphasized the importance of peer tutoring/mentoring relationships, and agreed that this should be part of our FYE. We have several possible pools for good mentors, one of which is the pool of orientation leaders. These peer mentors could meet with FSEM students to discuss assignments, especially the modules mentioned above, and they could provide continuing guidance as students navigate the first year. This idea pays off for the first year student, but also pays off for the peer mentors by providing an experiential learning opportunity.

C. FSEM Lab: what if, students in FSEM meet with peer mentor for an hour or so each week to discuss module, attend an event on campus, or hear about a campus resource like career services or the library? This could be offed for 1 hour credit, in addition to the 3 credits of the FSEM course.

D. We need to figure out a way to oversee all of this that does not put burden on faculty, and the group recommends that there be a Director of the First Year Experience. This person would work with the Writing and Speaking Centers and the Libraries on creating the modules and providing faculty development in their use as well as with the peer mentors on working with the FY students.

Discussion followed.

What to do with students who don't take FSEM in first semester. Given our current faculty size, we have to divide the FSEM sections over two semesters, we could set as a goal having most students take the FSEM in the first semester and work toward this over the course of the QEP.

Gwen said that this model fit with her experience in working on a QEP. We can start small, be successful, and grow from there. We can start with some pilot programs, evaluate those, see what was successful, tweak as needed, and then by the end of the 5 years, we'll have made demonstrable progress.

Current Programs Subgroup

Rosemary Barra reported for this subgroup. They looked at the resources and programs on campus that tie in with the goals and outcomes we have identified.

Understanding the liberal arts: the FSEM, first-year advising, and orientation are all critical to getting this message out

Critical thinking & communication: the FSEM is again a key component, and we can build on what we have. Perhaps there should be staff in the Writing and Speaking Centers who are focused on the first year student and helping them get up to a certain level of skill. All this could be focused through the Convergence Center, build on this for the collaborative part.

Discussion followed.

Rosemary emphasized that we need to identify students who need help and get them the support they need.

One idea that Anand and Gwen have discussed is to create Writing and Speaking fellows. Faculty would nominate students who exemplify writing and/or speaking excellence in a discipline. The Centers would hire them to work with students in that discipline. This would be a tremendous honor for the students, as well as a cost effective way to supplement existing programs

Focus Area Documents

Alan had distributed a handout prior to the meeting listing three areas out of our five that he felt we should focus upon. We discussed whether the two he omitted were the right two to cut, and agreed that they were. We also agreed that there have to be curricular and co-curricular components to each of the remaining three.

The next step will be to begin mapping these ideas to the curriculum, and Alan will also begin working on a draft of the QEP plan.

Our next meeting will be Monday, November 21, from 4 to 6.

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