New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Undergraduate student experience during the first year has been linked to perceived success throughout college. Subsequently, different factors influencing success in the first-year experience have been studied, including the importance of self-efficacy and optimism, the role of social support, and the construction of student communities, to name a few (Chemers, Hu, & Garcia, 2001; Wilcox, Winn, & Fyvie‐Gauld, 2005; Tinto, & Goodsell, 1994). This project seeks to extend research regarding the first-year experience by focusing on course integration. The overall purpose of this research project involves documenting an integrated First-Year Experience among three introductory freshman courses—Introductory Composition, Fundamentals of Speech Communication, and Design Thinking and Technology. Specifically, our research seeks to explore what difference the integration makes for students and instructors, with a focus on if and how the formal integration of these courses will improve students’ learning, academic engagement, and sense of community. This First-Year Experience is the first large-scale integration of courses at a large, public research university; specifically, this curricular program development has been implemented for over 500 first-year students. In this new arrangement, there are 40 students in each introductory design course. Of these, 20 are enrolled together in an introductory Communication course, and 20 in an introductory English course. Large-scale integration on this level is an intervention in the traditional university model, which often times includes a heavy, discipline-based segmentation of coursework. This presentation will report on establishing the integrated academic experience including the motivation, history, timeline, challenges, research agenda and current status of the project programming. Potential improvements in students’ learning, academic engagement, and sense of community are planned to be evaluated at multiple levels ranging from student level, instructor level, and administrator level. Data collection has been concurrent through the semester and at this phase, the data for evaluation is at the level of instructors: focus group interviews and instructor journal reflections. The questions our research seeks to answer are (1) does this integration work? and (2) how does this integration work? For instructors at the classroom level, is this pedagogically sound and are instructors engaging with community building in the First-Year Experience? For directors at the level of the program, what are the recommendations for change in future semesters due to pressure points they experienced, and how should changes be implemented in the program?
Chesley, A., & Mentzer, N., & Jackson, A., & Laux, D., & Renner, M. (2016, June), Integrating Technology, English, and Communication Courses for First-Year Technology Students Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25414
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