fy learning communities with templates by 0m63vv


									                                   First Year Learning Communities at UW-Milwaukee

The first-year experience at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is defined by connecting students both inside and
outside of the classroom. Through the Access to Success (A2S) initiative, interventions such as Peer Mentoring, Tutoring,
Freshman Seminars, Supplemental Instruction and Undergraduate Research have led to greater student success and
retention. It is the goal of the First Year Learning Communities (FYLC) to develop a learning environment that combines
effective instructional methods, co-curricular learning and events, and High-Impact Practices to lead to academic success
and stronger connections to campus for first semester students. Once a course has been deemed a FYLC, it will be
marketed to incoming first-year students at New Freshman Orientation with the recommendation that all students
enroll in at least one FYLC. Due to the rich diversity of the UWM students, it is the goal to offer a variety of FYLC options.

According to AAC&U

- The highest quality first-year experiences place a strong emphasis on critical inquiry, frequent writing, information
literacy, collaborative learning, and other skills that develop students’ intellectual and practical competencies.

-The key goals for learning communities are to encourage integration of learning across courses and to involve students
with “big questions” that matter beyond the classroom.

-Many learning communities explore a common topic and/or common readings through the lenses of different
disciplines. Some deliberately link “liberal arts” and “professional” courses; others feature service learning.

Information about all High-Impact Practices can be found at http://www.aacu.org/leap/documents/hip_tables.pdf.

UW-Milwaukee’s Definition of a First Year Learning Community

       Enroll only first-time freshmen.
       Employ high-impact practices, including a team approach with mentors, instructors and possibly advisors
        connecting with the course and student community.
       Establish and assess common curricular and co-curricular learning outcomes for all First Year Learning

Types of First Year Learning Communities

Freshman Seminars - Smaller in size, seminars are intended to enhance first-year students’ skills (inquiry and analysis,
critical and creative thinking, oral and written communication) and engage them in reflection about the process of
learning at the college level. More information can be found at http://www4.uwm.edu/letsci/freshmanseminars.

Intro to Profession - A course all students in a specific major or school/college are required to take during the first
semester. May introduce student to a discipline as well as the expectations of a school or college.

Living Learning Communities - Students take one or more courses together and live on a residence hall floor together. A
separate process occurs for LLCs. For more information, see http://www4.uwm.edu/livinglearning/.

First Year Sections - A freshman-only section or lab in a larger lecture class. (See below.)

Paired Courses - Two different courses with the same students and shared content.

Other - Current examples include Study Skills, Career Exploration, Financial Literacy, and Information Literacy.
  Focus on First-Year Sections: A Low-Cost Opportunity for High-
                 Impact Practices in the First Year

It’s a challenge to be able to afford dedicated (i.e. out-of-load small section) Freshman Seminars for everyone. But we
need to have universal High-Impact Practice experiences for our first-year students. So, did we already have some
resources that we weren't using? Yes.

Most schools have a number of introductory, multisection courses with first-year students sitting together in
lab/discussion sections in small numbers (between 10 and 20 students). If we could reserve a number of sections for
brand-new students, they would have the same small-group set-up as a seminar -- only unified by the required
introductory course (instead of a seminar topic) and taught by a TA or adjunct (instead of a professor). While these
aspects may appear to be liabilities, they present unique advantages that can be used in the service of learning.

1. With sufficient training and support, TAs could be fully capable of creating the social cohesion that enhances learning.
Obviously, they would need the training, and a course which might be slightly redesigned to include more collaborative
work, as well as support in the form of student-mentors available to students outside of classroom time. The idea is to
create a system in which TAs can routinely be trained not only to foster in- and out-of-class collaboration, but to spot
problem behaviors quickly (similar to the Early Warning System) and, once or twice in the term, engage the class in
discussions about the meaning of that course, or college education in general.

2. As for the challenges of applying this model to introductory courses: for students to be successful, they have to learn
to succeed in course environments that are pedagogically sub-optimal: required courses, lectures, etc. While the
individual attention and engaging special topics of first-year seminars are great, there's also a benefit to integrating
High-Impact Practices in introductory courses (basic writing, math, economics, science, communication, history, etc.)
that are more typical of the first two years.

The TA system is already in place, and graduate students, while somewhat inexperienced as teachers, are often
enthusiastic, motivated and very skilled at bonding with students. The only extra financial resources required would go
into the training and support, which would be considerably less than buyouts for faculty to teach small sections.

So, First-Year Sections can deliver significant impact at a low cost partly through the way they are structured, and partly
through being integrated into the basic first-year curriculum. They leverage existing organizational structures in the
university to give students a High-Impact Practice experience without enormous input of resources.

                                                                                                         funded by Compass
                                        First Year Learning Community Proposal Template

Learning Community Title:


Learning Community Instructor(s):

Contact Information:

Course Information

A minimum of one course is required for the FYLC, but may include two linked courses.


New Course or Existing Course?

Semester:                            Gen Ed designation:

Time intended to meet:

Why would this course be appropriate for a First Year Learning Community?

For future planning, consider the following questions:

1. What are the criteria for student involvement (Major specific, selective within Major, general students, etc.)?
2. How will the courses be linked to each other (if applicable)?
3. How will the FYLC address student retention and student success?
4. What types of co-curricular activities and High-Impact Practices might be connected to it (e.g., service learning, class
5. What types of support might be needed (e.g., technology, tutoring, library)?

Submitted by:

Department Chair’s Approval:

         Please submit to __________ by __________. A retreat will be held for instructors interested in the First Year Learning
                                                    Communities in late April.
                             First Year Learning Community Mentor Request Form Template

Course Name________________________________________________________________________

Instructor_______________________________________________                Email Address_______________

Date/time of Course__________________________

Type of Course

____ Freshman Seminar

____Learning Community

____First Year Impact Section

____Intro to Profession

____Paired Courses


FYLC Mentor Traits

Important                 Required

______ _                  _______        Specific School/College or Major: _________________________

______ _                  _______        Previously enrolled in the course

_______                   _______        Received a specific grade in the course: __________

_______                   _______        Able to provide academic support for the course

_______                   _______        Other:____________________________________________________

I would like to be involved in the selection of my mentor.       ____ Yes        ____No

Other Comments:

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