the FYE Journal August 2012 Inside this Issue From the Director’s Chair............. 2 Welcome, Class of 2016! Champions................................. 3 Glenda Hensley – Director of First Year Experience Education Briefcase..................... 4 Welcome to the WCU community! There are so many opportunities ahead for you as you begin this exciting chapter in your life. You are going to make new friends with whom you will share wonderful experiences in the classroom and out of the classroom. Our goal at Western Carolina is to enable you to exceed your expectations during your undergraduate studies. With a multitude of academic programs from which to choose, you will soon be immersed in active learning and creative scholarship. A plethora of co-curricular programs that will engage your mind, body, and spirit will complement your academic journey. And on top of all that, you have PEAKS, the residential experience for first year students, to make you feel right at home. You will most certainly not be bored! The Bully Pullpit......................... 5 Citizenship and Civility................. 6 Commitment.............................. 7 Learning Communities................. 8 WHEE Teach............................ 10 Eye On Fye............................... 12 I suggest you begin with the FYE Bookmark Journey. (Talk with your FYE Transition course instructor to learn more about this journey and the contest.) My challenge to you: Get out of your room, meet new people, introduce yourself to your faculty and to student affairs professionals. Go to the art gallery, see a play, go to a ball game, participate in intramurals, join a club, attend special topics programs in the UC, form a study group, participate in residential events, be a leader. Embrace your community of learners and excel in ways you never thought possible! The learning and life experiences of the next four years will be pivotal and will empower you to succeed and to excel in life. I am extremely happy that you have chosen to join us at WCU as you embark on your pathway of discovery. You may be surprised where the journey leads you! The FYE JOURNAL | PAGE 1 From the Director’s Chair Greetings and Welcome to the FYE Community! By Glenda Hensley – Director of First Year Experience networks that will support their work with first-year students. In addition to the FYE Journal, we publish two e-magazines: 1) the FYE Notepad is a bimonthly publication for first-year educators; and 2) the FYE Message Board features news and opportunities designed for first-year students. We also host an extensive collection of student videographic works that can be accessed from the FYE news page. WCU has a multitude of excellent programs and services that support students’ first-year experience. Working with common purpose, we have embraced our successes and our challenges to build an authentically holistic approach to the First Year Experience, or FYE. Positioned in Academic Affairs as a unit of the Office for Undergraduate Studies, FYE is dedicated to fostering a strong and rigorous academic foundation for first-year students. Our office coordinates all FYE Transition Pathways courses, first-year learning communities and the first-year seminars within the liberal studies program. We recognize that learning does not stop at the classroom door, and in fact improves dramatically as students have the opportunities to connect curricular, cocurricular and residential experiences. In this issue you will read about adventures of the past year and dreams for the future, all of which are accomplished in concert with an orchestra of campus partners that includes folks from Student Affairs, Residential Living, academic colleges/support units, Public Relations, Information Technology, Coulter Faculty Commons, Admissions/Orientation, Administration and ... well, you get the idea! The FYE website serves as an information portal for students and families and also provides faculty and staff with resources and PAGE 2 | The FYE JOURNAL This year’s FYE Journal is a champion of Citizenship and Civility, the 2012-13 Quality Enhancement Plan interdisciplinary initiative. As you read “Champions: The FYE Advocate Awards,” you will see just why we are so proud to be members of the Western Carolina community – why we are proud of the “Western Way,” which sets us apart from the crowd and motivates us to be our best! In “The Education Briefcase and the First Year Experience,” Nory Prochaska reminds us all that “the real motivation for adopting the eBriefcase – an element of WCU’s Quality Enhancement Plan – is that making this reflective collection of your best work and favorite experiences will help you see the entirety of your educational experience.” Is it any wonder that with such commitment to excellence and to advocacy our students feel empowered to leave their mark – to make a difference in their community? You will see what I mean when you read “The Bully Pulpit: One Student’s Passion” by rising junior Jessica Nipper. Commitment follows passion as we read how service learning is the focus in the next two features: “Citizenship and Civility: First-Year Service and Leadership” and “Commitment: ASP and the Day of Service.” The “Western Way” reminds us that we are a community, and you will understand what we mean as you read these two features: “LC-Squared: Learning Communities for All!” and “Whee Teach: A Learning Community for the Future.” And finally, at the end of the day we celebrate the learning and experience, the first-year student, and the first-year educator and advocate. Winner of the Director’s Choice FYE Student Advocate award, Gabby Robinson (class of 2014), shares how the celebration looked last year in her story, “EYE on FYE: Celebrate the Creed.” The journey for our newest community members will be filled with excitement, trepidation, joy, occasional frustration and discovery. Our mission, as faculty and staff members, is to be mentors, guides, and teachers – to support, listen and care. Our job, quite simply, is to provide the resources our students need to enjoy a successful transition to college, to open the door to their future, and to keep the lights turned on. My office strives to “walk the walk” of our QEP – to work with intentionality and common purpose to synthesize what we each bring to the table into a greater whole. I look forward to the opportunity to intersect your pathway this year! Western Calling U! Students: What is Western Calling U? It is a personal phone call from an administrator or faculty/staff member to new first-year students. We celebrate your arrival for a full Week of Welcome (WOW). Then, as you begin to settle in to college life, you may discover new questions or needs or even feel lonely during the transition. Western Calling U is a reminder that we are here for you. Pay attention to this part: Sometime during the second or third week of classes, your phone will ring, and don’t be surprised when a faculty or staff member you have met – or not – is on the line. It could be your college dean or your department head – or it could be Chancellor Belcher himself. And no – don’t answer your phone in class, even if it is the chancellor calling, but do return the call! We just want to say “Hello” and ask how you are doing! Faculty and staff: This personal communication with students is designed to - Welcome with a personal touch - Reinforce early connections such as movein day and Week of Welcome - Facilitate conversations that will open doors for students to seek help and resources If you want to join our calling team, please contact Glenda Hensley | [email protected] we would love to have you on the line! Champions: The FYE Advocate Awards By Rebecca Lasher – Professor in the Department of Social Work The arrival of a new family member is a blissful and exceptional occasion! It is certainly a period of adjustment and transition for all, and one of tremendous excitement. This year, as we welcome the class of 2016 to our Catamount family, our goal is to embrace and create a community bond with our newest students arriving in Cullowhee. This first year will be filled with opportunities, discoveries, joy and occasional frustration or loneliness. We are fortunate at WCU to have many different people that fit this description of advocate. You know who you are – that individual who really remembers students’ names when seen around campus, is truly invested in students and has a genuine interest in their success. Joe Cuseo, a First Year Experience educator and author from Marymount College, describes a number of the qualities common among student advocates. These are individuals who have: During the First Year Experience at WCU, staff and faculty are engaged with students to increase their sense of personal significance, validate them and let them know they truly matter. This is an institution where students are known and cared for in a nuturing environment. • A student-centered educational philosophy Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate Award • A willingness to work with faculty and staff across academic disciplines and student-support services Beginning last year with the class of 2015, the office of First Year Experience asked students to nominate some of the people on campus who made a real difference in their transition to college life. The definition of an advocate is someone who has the best interest of the student in mind, someone a student can count on to give sound advice, someone who cares about the student deeply in and out of the classroom. It is that one person a student knows will be in their corner. • A commitment to out-of-class contact with students • A genuine interest in mentoring new students • A desire to develop the student as a “whole person” Recognized at the EYE on FYE Celebration in April William “Will” Shivers of the Advising Center was chosen by the WCU class of 2015 for the Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate award. Students described Will in the following terms: “the most caring individual It was definitely an emotional moment. Obviously, student personnel professionals go into the field because we find it rewarding to work with students and watch them develop, but it is a wonderful feeling to be recognized and know that you’ve made a difference to someone. I’m very proud to have the award hanging on my wall.” Will, having just completed his eighth year in the Advising Center, went on to say, “One of my favorite times of year is the start of the fall semester, when we hold individual meetings with our new Catamounts. During these meetings we get a chance to get to know them one-on-one and check in to see how they are adjusting to college both academically and socially. We ask them about their involvement on campus, discuss the expectations and realities of college-level academics, inquire how they’re managing their time and studies, and direct them to helpful campus resources. These conversations can lead in many different directions depending on the student, so it’s a great way to get to know them. Everything is new to them and their energy is certainly contagious. When meeting with parents during orientation, I often comment that I have the greatest job because I get to relive college vicariously through students. This typically gets a laugh, but I mean it quite sincerely.” Other nominees from the class of 2015 included James Addison, Hunt Boulware, Andrew Dalton, Rebecca Lasher, Aubrey Ray, Jennifer Schiff, Tacquice Wiggan and Jennifer Wilson. It is clear that there are many passionate, positive and inspirational individuals who are engaged with students. To the Class of 2016 Congratulations on your arrival to the Western Carolina family. The year ahead will be full of excitement, change and new relationships. We are here to support you and proud to call you one of our own. I have ever met”; “goes above and beyond the normal duties of what is expected”; “cares about the well-being of his advisees”; and “always speedy in replying when help is needed.” Will shared the following: “I was both honored and humbled when I found out I had won the FYE Advocate award. Keep your eyes open for those folks across campus who advocate for you through your journey. You will receive an email in February and will be invited to nominate two people for Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate who have been particularly important and have made a significant impact on your life during the first year of college. Have a fantastic year! The FYE JOURNAL | PAGE 3 The Education Briefcase and the First Year By Nory Prochaska – Director of the Mathematics Tutoring Center & Chair of the Education Briefcase Implementation Team student found, collecting, reflecting on and writing about many diverse experiences – coursework, service learning, social activities, internships, recreation – helps you to see that your education is more than just attending classes, studying, making grades. The eBriefcase is a tool to help you make synthesis happen, and then have an easy way to impress those hiring/admission committees with the knowledge that you understand and appreciate that synthesis happened. Imagine it’s April of 2016. You’re gearing up for your last set of final exams before you graduate, and thinking about the job, graduate school or professional school applications you’ve sent off. You get a reply from your first choice, asking for more information about yourself, including some samples of work and evidence of experience you have had; perhaps something that shows your development over four years of college. Wouldn’t it be nice if all of this material were saved in one place, already in polished form, and ready to send out? We thought so. That’s part of the reason we developed the Education Briefcase, or eBriefcase, an online portfolio system to document all aspects of your education experience. About the eBriefcase This fall, all students will have the use of this marvelous new tool, a place where you can save evidence of your best work and best learning experiences. You can include some reflective writing about each piece, a reminder of what part it played in your total educational experience. And it will be easy to collect a set of these “artifacts” to send on to that employer or graduate school. But you’re a good student already, right? You are conscientious about saving your stuff on your hard drive, or on a thumb drive dedicated to school work. But what if your computer crashes? Or you download some innocent looking game or application and get a terminal virus? Or drop your keys into the storm drain grate in front of Subway and – oops! – the thumb drive was on your keychain! Well, if you’d also saved all of that material in a secure, remote storage location that is backed-up routinely to industry standards, you would have saved yourself PAGE 4 | The FYE JOURNAL the heartache and/or panic of one of these scenarios. We thought of that, too, and that’s another thing that the eBriefcase can do for you. Synthesis Through eBriefcase But you know what? The real motivation for adopting the eBriefcase – an element of WCU’s Quality Enhancement Plan – is that making this reflective collection of your best work and favorite experiences will help you see the entirety of your educational experience. Last spring, a student in recreational therapy put it best when, in the midst of the final portfolio presentation for her capstone class, she paused and said, “You know, I’m really glad we had this assignment [reflecting on the QEP Learning Outcomes in the eBriefcase]. It allowed me to look back over all four years, to see how much I’ve learned, and to see how it all fits together to prepare me for my future in a career in rec therapy.” This kind of culminating experience is called “synthesis,” making a whole out of many disparate parts, seeing connections between curricular (in-class), extra-curricular (outside of the academic part) and co-curricular (outside of the classroom but still classrelated) parts of your college experience. It is part of the higher level of thinking and reasoning that you are expected to develop while in college, the kind of thinking that is valued by employers and expected by graduate and professional schools. It’s something we wanted to make sure WCU students get out of their education, and it’s why we developed our QEP, “Synthesis: A Pathway to Intentional Learning,” as part of our institutional accreditation process. The eBriefcase is a way of not only documenting synthetic experiences, but also a way of making them happen. Just as the rec therapy Support for eBriefcase Users Entering first-time college students will formally meet the eBriefcase in their transition course and in their first year composition courses. This introduction will include a class period dedicated to learning the mechanics of eBriefcase followed by progressively more substantial assignments that are to be included in the eBriefcase. But eBriefcase use isn’t limited to just these classes; in fact, it is a bit of an odd duck in that it is not tied to any one class, major or program. In fact, it’s not even limited to just classroom work – any experience that contributes to your educational experience should be included. It is an institutionwide initiative for all undergraduate students, at all levels, including nontraditional students and transfer students. Students are free to include any artifacts that they believe showcase their development as an intentional learner. So it’s important that technical and creative support be available to all students at a wide range of times and levels, from the beginner to those in need of a refresher to those who want help creating some really dramatic artifacts for their eBriefcase. This help is available in the Technology Commons, located in Hunter Library. The support includes walk-up quick answers to questions, workshops, scheduled oneon-one how-to and creative development consultations, online tutorials (located on Blackboard at the “My eBriefcase” tab) and email questions through [email protected] email.wcu.edu. Instructors are offered support, as well, through the Coulter Faculty Commons. Help is available on the basic technical operation of eBriefcase, development or adaptation of assignments, and integration into ongoing programs, courses or activities in liberal studies courses, elective courses and the major. FYE CABINET MEMBERS The Bully Pulpit: One Student’s Passion By Jessica Nipper rights of all persons.” Third, the campaign allows students to excel in their college career while making a stand and taking pride in Western Carolina University. See how closely all of this ties into the creed? When arriving to college, there are many mixed feelings and emotions that a firstyear student experiences. One of these contemplative thoughts might be, “How can just one person help a community of thousands?” The answer is, “in many ways.” Not only do you help by choosing the path you walk but also by helping pave the way for your peers on Western Carolina’s campus. For the past two years, I have been exposed to different situations and observed many incidents on campus which made me value and have a strong fire of passion about my proposal. The anti-bullying campaign that will launch in the fall is a promising step forward because it does three important things. First and foremost, the campaign aims to reinforce the safe environment that Western Carolina strives to ensure its students. Second, the campaign helps everyone celebrate the WCU Community Creed. Many people may think maintaining and practicing the creed is demonstrating a sense of pride about your school, such as attending football games, helping with facepainting or even wearing a WCU T-shirt. It is all of those things, but to dig a little deeper, it is also about being a good neighbor, or as some would say, “looking out for one another.” By taking a stand against what is wrong, you are practicing a sense of pride as stated in the creed: “Respect the dignity and When you receive an acceptance letter, attend orientation and even walk around campus for the first time, various thoughts might run through your mind, such as “It is so huge!” or “How will I find all of my classes?” However, you will get acquainted and campus will become very familiar. In the process, you will begin to separate yourself from high school and transition to becoming an adult. Also, your strength of character will evolve and your leadership skills will blossom. You will branch out into different organizations and activities and identify changes you desire in yourself. These changes can be small details or huge things, such as making a proposal to end bullying on campus. You can help make a difference, no matter how big or how small. You may feel like one small person standing in a big crowd, but these thoughts can be banished and the results are rewarding. By launching this proposal, I am hoping to stop many situations from even occurring. I am hoping to bring about change that can affect many lives on campus as well as throughout the community. Also, I am hoping to help students become aware of the consequences of their actions and emphasize my passion about WCU and doing good. My goal is driven by a passion that creates this fire to make it come alive. Realizing how many people I can influence, that I can make a difference throughout campus and inspire others to make a difference as well, is my motivating force. Not only is it in our power to help shape campus and the university setting, but as we practice the creed, we learn to face the challenges of the world after college. You may still be thinking, “How can just one person help a community of thousands?” It is attainable. With one’s passion, motivation and dedication, you CAN make a difference. Jessica Nipper is a rising junior at Western Carolina University. Cabinet Chair Glenda Hensley Director of First Year Experience Undergraduate Student Representative Gabby Robinson Academic Affairs Will Shivers Advising Jennifer Cooper Service Learning Janina Dehart Academic Success Program Margaret Bruder English Faculty. + ALC + FYS John Habel PSY Faculty + ALC + FYS Nory Prochaska USI Coordinator + Math Tutoring Center Mardy Ashe Career Services Rebecca Wolfe FYE GA Murat Yazan WRCS Dir. + ASP + EB + FYS Rebecca Lasher Social Work Faculty + USI Robert Crow Coulter Faculty Commons Student Affairs Tammy Haskett Orientation Brian Boyer Case Manager, Residential Living Tacquice Wiggan Leadership + LEAD Coordinator James Felton Intercultural Affairs Patrick Frasier Admissions Josh Whitmore Base Camp, Outdoor Recreation Stephanie Sue Helmers Academic Initiatives, Residential Living Mandy Dockendorf Recreation & Wellness Laura Ansley PEAKS Arika Morison Counseling Justin Barker ARC – GA in Residential Living Administrative Oversight Carol Burton Assistant Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Studies Sam Miller Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs The FYE JOURNAL | PAGE 5 Citizenship and Civility: Service and Leadership in the First Year By Jennifer Cooper – Assistant director of the Center for Service Learning Mike Corelli – Associate director for leadership in the Office of Leadership and Student Involvement As a student at WCU, you have many opportunities to get involved: intramural and club sports, Greek life, outdoor programs, campus ministry activities, leadership programs and volunteer projects are just a few of the possibilities. These options are open to all students, but this year our firstyear students will have special opportunities to participate in service-learning and leadership activities. On Saturday, Aug. 25, as a part of Week of Welcome, we will host our first-ever First Year Experience (FYE) Day of Service. This event will focus on students enrolled in first-year seminars, transition courses and writing rhetoric and composition studies courses, with all first-year students encouraged to participate. And of course, it will be open to all interested students, faculty and staff. Volunteers will be able to help with tasks such as campus beautification and adopt-a-sidewalk projects; weeding, watering and harvesting crops at the campus garden; helping complete the new, approximately 6-mile multiuse trail on WCU’s West Campus; assisting with roadside cleanup projects on campus and in the surrounding community; writing letters to soldiers serving overseas; and more. Our days of service usually focus on projects in the surrounding communities, but many first-year students have logistical barriers that make it difficult for them to volunteer off campus. To ensure that all interested first-year students are able to participate, the FYE Day of Service will emphasize on-campus projects. These projects will give students more opportunities to get involved, help them develop Catamount pride and show their school spirit, and benefit our campus. What better way to celebrate the WCU Community Creed! The FYE Day of Service is only the first chance for the class of 2016 to volunteer. Many first-year seminars and transition courses will PAGE 6 | The FYE JOURNAL include a civic engagement component, so opportunities for community- and university-based service projects will be available throughout the year. As part of the commitment to serving the community and making positive social change happen, participation in the day of service will allow students the chance to work together as leaders and members of the WCU community and take the initiative to make a difference. Participation in service learning and leadership opportunities provides a wide range of benefits. Community engagement is part of the university’s mission and also fits in perfectly with this year’s QEP interdisciplinary theme of “Citizenship and Civility.” (Citizenship is an emphasized characteristic of leadership whereby individuals engage in activities to effect positive change and embrace their role as stewards.) Giving students the opportunity to volunteer during the first week of their college careers will empower their civic engagement and political efficacy. By being involved in various service projects, WCU students will find themselves learning about who they are and how they, as part of a group, can be agents of change and truly make a difference in the local and global community. Research shows that students who are involved in activities like these are more likely to stay in school, to have a positive college experience and to graduate. Service also strengthens students’ resumes and lets them explore career options, helps them get the most out of their classes, allows them to meet people with similar interests, provides an opportunity for them to develop leadership and communication skills, and supports the local community. There are many opportunities to get involved in service and leadership activities. Through OrgSync, an online community filled with opportunities to get involved, students can find a detailed list of all the clubs and organizations that WCU has to offer. In addition, WCU’s Center for Service Learning sponsors days of service throughout the year; organizes serviceoriented alternative break trips during the spring and fall semesters; coordinates activities such as a “hunger banquet” and a trip to a local food bank during National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week; advises the campus garden club; and promotes special volunteer opportunities such as Mountain Heritage Day, the Tuck River Cleanup, Dance Marathon and Relay for Life. During the fall semester, the Center for Service Learning is sponsoring two days of service in addition to the event designated for first-year students. The office also coordinates partnerships with 122 community agencies, including environmental groups, organizations that focus on povertyrelated issues, schools and educational groups, medical care and health advocacy organizations, and more. The Office of Leadership and Student Involvement also provides opportunities for students to be active on campus. As a co-sponsor of the FYE Day of Service, we encourage students to enhance their leadership skills through organizations such as the Leadership Institute, Greek Life, the Student Government Association, and any one of the LEAD Living-Learning Communities. The Center for Service Learning and the Office of Leadership and Student Involvement are here to help you get involved on and off campus. We look forward to working with the class of 2016! Commitment: ASP and the Day of Service By Janina DeHart – ASP coordinator Murat Yazan – Co-director of the WRCS program, ASP faculty member Bobby Willover – ASP Staff and FYE Transitions instructor Western Carolina University’s Academic Success Program, known as ASP, offers a foundation for service learning in and around the community. Service learning has been an integral part of the ASP summer session since 2004 and has expanded in scope of community partners and benefiting community organizations. In the early years, members of each ASP class (approximately 60-80 total students) would participate in a service project such as a river cleanup or working with a local organization such as the Community Table or Habitat for Humanity. The program expanded in 2007 and the number of students now averages approximately 120. This increase made it more challenging to coordinate multiple service projects over the span of the summer session. In early 2011, ASP faculty member Murat Yazan approached the ASP coordinator about the possibility of combining efforts into one day of service and working with local partner, Walmart of Sylva, to help sponsor a large community event in conjunction with multiple service projects. Yazan, who had previous ties with Walmart, was integral in the formation of the partnership and continues to be involved with planning and organizing the event. Last year, the day of service provided an opportunity for students, faculty, staff and community members to work together. A carnival was held at Walmart of Sylva that featured games, food and drinks, and many different information booths with all proceeds benefiting two community organizations: REACH of Jackson County and Community Table. The net contributions, including matching grants from Walmart, totaled $2,614.50, with an additional $1,000 in merchandise collected for the two agencies. Additionally, students cleaned up parts of the Tuckaseigee River and performed service projects at sites with four other nonprofit organizations: Full Spectrum Farms, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Skyland Care Center and the Cullowhee Revitalization Endeavor, also known as CuRvE. This year, the day of service will include an expanded carnival at the Walmart of Sylva along with projects at several other sites throughout the community, including Full Spectrum Farms, Mountain Trace Nursing Center, Appalachian Homestead Farm and Catman2. There also will be a cleanup of the Tuckaseigee River guided by Base Camp Cullowhee. “ASP has incorporated service projects into our summer session for several years, because it is important for the students to become engaged in the community early in their college career at WCU,” said Janina DeHart, ASP coordinator. “Last year, we began a partnership with Walmart in order to increase our impact in the local community and to provide a greater level of support to community agencies. We hope this annual event continues to grow and expands to include additional constituents throughout the community.” Students in the Academic Success Program begin their college experience early by participating in a six-week summer session prior to the fall semester of their freshman year. The program assists students in making a successful transition to the university and includes opportunities for students to become fully engaged as members of the university and the local community. In addition to the Day of Service, ASP students have the opportunity to be involved with various activities on campus, such as intramurals, as well as outings in the local area, including a class trip to the Qualla Boundary where they learn about Cherokee culture and history and the connection to our campus. The ASP Day of Service is the first step in the students’ journeys to becoming involved with leadership opportunities here at Western Carolina and in their future careers. ASP students also will participate in other projects during the school year, including co-sponsoring the House Party Project with the Leadership Institute and assisting with the Safe Kids Trick-or-Treat event in Cherokee during the fall semester. They also plan to have a team participate in the Dance Marathon in the spring. The 2012 Day of Service is sponsored by Western Carolina University’s Academic Success Program, First Year Experience, Center for Service Learning and Quality Enhancement Plan and by Walmart, Ryan’s and Bojangles’ restaurants of Sylva, and the town of Sylva. The FYE JOURNAL | PAGE 7 Learning Community LC -Squared: Learning Communities for All! By Glenda Hensley – FYE director | Robert Crow – Coordinator of Instructional Development and Assessment, Coulter Faculty Commons Stephanie Sue Helmers – Assistant director for Academic Initiatives, Residential Living A learning community intentionally links together courses or coursework to provide greater curricular and co-curricular coherence, more opportunities for active teaming, and interaction between students and faculty. • A Living Learning Community (LLC) consists of at least one course that is integrated with residential and co-curricular complements. • An Academic Learning Community (ALC) consists of two or more linked courses in which topics are integrated by design. • Linked courses may also include a residential component What We Do Now Western Carolina University features nine Living-Learning Communities, or LLCs. These communities provide a link between students’ in-class and out-of-class experiences. Classes of 20-25 students are enrolled in a LEAD transitions course and housed on the same floor of a designated residence hall. The course instructor(s), resident assistants, resident directors and academic resource coordinator work together to promote the connection of the academic and residential experiences. Because the living environment serves as the second “community” grouping in the LLC model, the residence life staff members are key partners in maximizing the experience of the students. In addition to monitoring individual student challenge and successes, they reinforce the theme of the transitions course through experiential educational programs and opportunities. They also support the in-class experience by attending classes and partnering with the instructors on a large-scale program each semester. STUDENTS Why Do You Care? This is a college experience you choose based on your goals and interests and an experience that will challenge, empower and inspire. Learning communities provide you with the opportunity to develop friendships and experience learning as a dynamic exchange of ideas and perspectives during your transition to campus life. In a cohort with other students who share your interests, you will easily discover how the PAGE 8 | The FYE JOURNAL educational experience connects with what matters to you! Students enrolled in learning communities enjoy a high level of academic success and personal satisfaction during their first semester of college and quickly become leaders on campus. FACULTY & STAFF Lean Forward: Commitment To The Future This summer faculty and staff dedicated themselves to significantly involved levels of professional development through workshops and retreats in preparation to deliver the learning communities referenced above – and to vision the next generation of learning communities at WCU. The result of our inaugural summer retreat, held in June, was a collection of learning community ideas and themes from a dynamic group of visionaries from across the university in academic affairs and student affairs. Take advantage of the upcoming opportunities to hone your instructional skill. As a strategic partner, the Coulter Faculty Commons is committed to expanding professional development opportunities to WCU’s instructional teaching staff and is designing workshops and other opportunities specific to academic skills, transitions and leadership courses. Many academic and student affairs instructors have taken advantage of these specially-focused sessions, which have included “Tools & Toys for Active Learning,” “Syllabus Design & Assessment” and “eBriefcase and the First Year Experience.” Scheduled for a pilot rollout during this upcoming academic year is a more intensive offering – a certificate program that will offer a cohesive experience as you complete in-depth training on a variety of topics. This certification will be available for those interested in developing a strong instructional foundation and perspective for enhancing students learning experiences. In all learning community models, (whether living-learning, academiclearning or residential colleges), student affairs staff members can prove extremely valuable in supporting the development of your community and the established learning goals. Their knowledge of student development theory and campus resources as well as their connection with current trends in student life can support community development from both the curricular and co-curricular perspectives. Faculty and instructors should feel comfortable calling upon student affairs professionals to assist them in developing their communities, organizing learning experiences and assisting with student issues. You will find student affairs staff members to be eager partners in supporting student success. Why Do You Care? Short answer: Learning communities empower an enhanced learning and teaching experience. Learning communities provide students with the opportunity to develop friendships and experience learning as a dynamic exchange of ideas and perspectives during their transition to campus life. As Jean Henscheid, core curriculum director at the University of Idaho, shared at WCU’s inaugural Learning Community Retreat this summer, the magic of learning communities is that they provide: • Opportunities for interdisciplinary teaching, deep learning • Opportunities to transcend the tyranny of 50-minute period • Provost-al four (improvements in GPA, retention, graduation rate, satisfaction) • Opportunities to build faculty teaching community • Students bond around academic themes and relationships Guiding Visions The overarching goal of the university’s Quality Enhancement Plan, “Synthesis: A Pathway to Intentional Learning,” is to empower students to integrate knowledge and skills from their academic and cocurricular experiences to become intentional participants in their own learning. Learning communities are an educational strategy identified by the American Association of Colleges and Universities as a High Impact Educational Practice that have been shown to be beneficial for college students: “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. Students take two or more linked courses as a group and work closely with one another and with their professors.” Strategic Direction #2, “Enrich the Total Student Experience,” of the WCU “2020 Vision: Focusing Our Future,” includes an initiative specifically aimed toward providing logistical and administrative support for learning communities: “Foster active citizenship among our students” (Goal 2.2). Initiative 2.2.3 goes on to state: “Increase the number of academic living learning communities that integrate active, collaborative, and interdisciplinary learning experiences with curricular goals, ensuring necessary logistical and administrative support.” How Can You Get Involved? Interested faculty and staff members are encouraged to commit to a partnership team to create new learning communities with the support of colleagues and professional development opportunities. We invite you to share the vision and the “high impact” potential for learning communities at WCU. Collaborative partnerships will: High-Impact Learning Practices: How WCU is Aligned As we continue to explore all opportunities to enhance the teaching and learning experience at WCU, we are on track with national practice. We are engaged with each of these practices, some more prominently but all to some degree. • First-Year Seminars and Experiences 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. First-year seminars can also involve students with cutting-edge questions in scholarship and with faculty members’ own research. • Learning communities • Continue a research and planning process to create a first-year learning community • Common intellectual experiences • Engage with professional development opportunities • Collaborative assignments and projects • Develop a network collaboration by which you may support learning communities in development Teams will continue with the support (moral, pedagogical and fiscal) of colleagues in LC², as well as other units on campus including the Office for Undergraduate Studies, Coulter Faculty Commons, Department of Residential Living, Office for Leadership and Student Involvement, and First Year Experience. • Writing-intensive courses • Undergraduate research • Diversity/global learning • Service learning, community-based learning • Internships • Capstone courses and projects First-Year Authority Leads Inaugural WCU Learning Community Retreat Dr. Jean M. Henscheid, was recognized as a central figure in the international movement to improve entering college students’ experiences at the 30th annual conference on The FirstYear Experience. Henscheid is author and co-author of four books, several book chapters and many scholarly articles on issues related to first-year students and other students in transition, interdisciplinary education, senior capstone courses, teaching methods and research and assessment of the college student experience. She is also nationally recognized as an expert in learning communities involving general education and academic major courses. The FYE JOURNAL | PAGE 9 Whee Teach: A Learning Community for the Future By Janice Holt – Executive director | Belinda Petricek – Academic advisor, Teacher Recruitment, Advising, and Career Support (TRACS) The evolution of the Whee Teach LLC began in 2009 when the College of Education and Allied Professions (or CEAP) established the Office of Teacher Recruitment, Advising and Career Support, also known as TRACS. The mission of TRACS was to develop a collegewide system of support for recruitment, advising, preparation, induction and professional development of career educators. The vision was clear: Relationships with students built during the recruitment process grow and mature during teacher preparation, flourish during transition into the profession, and continue throughout the profession. The CEAP academic advising office, an integral component of TRACS, uses a relationship-based model of academic advising to support the success of students seeking initial licensure. TRACS advisers work with faculty and staff to create opportunities for students to engage with the college during their first year, filling the gap between declaration of major and the time students actually begin taking professional education courses as sophomores. However, many freshmen began to express their desire for more – they wanted to be “surrounded with like-minded people” and take classes that provided “relevance PAGE 10 | The FYE JOURNAL to teaching.” Discussions began in earnest regarding the possibility of creating an academic living-learning community for first-year education majors. Drawing from the successes of the Teaching Fellows Program and other WCU learning communities, the Whee Teach Living-Learning Community was designed to provide a holistic college experience by combining classroom learning, co-curricular activities (the Whee Teach student organization) and a residential learning community. In spring 2011, the Whee Teach LLC model was presented to departments, the Leadership Council of the College of Education and Allied Professions, First Year Experience, residential living, and the TRACS advisory council for approval. If Plato is right about the beginning being the most important part of the work, then the journey to becoming a teacher should include a beginning filled with varied learning experiences, professional development activities and opportunities for students to engage with WCU faculty, staff and public school teachers. This past academic year, 50 first-year education majors began their journey as members of the Whee Teach LLC. Program highlights include, but are not limited to: • Taking two academic courses– a first-year seminar and English 101 • Joining the Whee Teach student organization and contributing to organization goals • Participating in curricular/co-curricular programming such as documentary films, panel discussions, town hall meetings, guest speakers, book studies, etc. • Volunteering to help with the garden project at Cullowhee Valley School and CEAP recruitment activities • Attending and reflecting on the First Thursday speaker series sponsored by the School of Teaching and Learning • Interacting with RAs who were also education majors Perhaps the most significant outcome of the Whee Teach LLC was that some members requested to continue the LLC journey during their sophomore year. As a result, Whee Teach 2 was established, housed in Harrill Hall with an upper class education major serving as RA, and will take their first WCU is a University of North Carolina campus and an Equal Opportunity Institution. Office of Creative Services | August 2012 | 12-577 education course together (EDCI 201). By student request, Whee Teach 2 participants will serve as mentors for the freshmen LLC and will be trained and supported by a CEAP faculty mentor. The addition of a dozen enthusiastic WHEE Teach 2 LLC mentors for this academic year is creating new opportunities to integrate information from a variety of contexts, resulting in a rich college experience for firstyear students. Program objectives follow: • Provide mentor training and develop team-building activities to Whee Teach 2 mentors that include the tools needed to best support our first-year students and their transition to college life (scheduled the week of freshman move in) • Collaborate with the EDCI 201 instructor, faculty mentor and Whee teach student organization faculty sponsor to identify connections between WHEE Teach 2 LLC, mentoring activities and the course • Capitalize on academic course schedules (transition course and first-year seminar) offered at the same time/day to provide opportunities for team-teaching and collaborative activities P R OUD PARTNER Proud Partner • Meet regularly with WHEE Teach 2 LLC mentors and RAs to identify course topics that can be incorporated into their activity plans, to reinforce and advance integrated and engaged learning (from the “classroom to the living room”) • Increase involvement with school and community initiatives that focus on the development of collaborative partnerships, providing opportunities for civic engagement with public schools for WHEE Teach and Whee Teach 2 LLCs • Create activities that lead to powerful conversations and an exchange of ideas but also strengthen relationships between mentor/mentee groups as well as with CEAP faculty It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child, and it can certainly be said that it takes a village to “raise” a learning community. Members of the CEAP “village” who are providing direct support for WHEE Teach/2 LLCs were intentionally selected because of the knowledge and experiences they brought to the program. They are currently serving as academic advisers or are CEAP faculty/EPA nonfaculty with public school teaching experience, are part of a strong network of support and are committed to the success of CEAP LLCs. Thoughts for the future include expanding WHEE Teach to include additional teacher education majors. This year, the LLC was almost full before orientation began and there are currently students on a waiting list. Several faculty have also expressed interest in adding an international field experience tied to the first education course, EDCI 201. Intentionality is central to the success of this idea. For instance, students interested in this experience could form an international LLC or be a subgroup within WHEE Teach. These students would take a liberal studies course (or courses) that supports the field experience (i.e., taking German fall of sophomore year as a cohort and visiting German schools during spring break to fulfill field component of EDCI 201). Connections between the liberal studies program and this experience are actually limitless and without a doubt WHEE Teach International supports QEP and FYE goals and outcomes. What better way to begin the journey to the classroom! ‘Red Zone’ Initiative Reminds Campus Community of Dangers of New School Year As we embark on a new school year, it is important to remember that we also enter the “Red Zone,” the six-week period when students – especially those in their first and second years – are more at-risk of unwanted sexual experiences on college campuses. To combat this, departments from across campus strive to not only heighten understanding of the meaning of consent and dangers of sexual violence but also to create a community culture where violence of any kind is not tolerated. In 2011 alone, almost 600 individuals took the Red Zone Pledge to make a powerful statement standing up against violence and supporting their friends, classmates, co-workers and neighbors. Annual programs such as Take Back the Night continue to create an empowering and judgment-free space for those affected by sexual or dating violence to shatter the silence and find support in their community. Throughout the upcoming fall, events that touch upon these themes (for example, Speed Dating: Staying Out of the Red Zone, Take Back the Night, Hit the “C” Spot – Consent, etc.) will take place. With this, we are committed not only to teaching individuals to be safe in our community and amplify awareness but also to A Camp us Wide Collaborat ion Coordinated by the Department of Intercultural Affairs challenging the way we look at sexual assault and unhealthy relationships and to working Coordinated by the department of Intercultural Affairs together to take proactive steps to make a difference and advocate for change. For more information, or to sign the Red Zone Pledge, please visit redzone.wcu.edu or contact Sarah Carter at [email protected] The FYE JOURNAL | PAGE 11 Office for Undergraduate Studies 555 HF Robinson Cullowhee, NC 28723 Glenda Hensley, FYE Director 828.227.2786 | [email protected] Think First Be Involved Discover College Celebrate the creed MY FYE GOALS EYE on FYE: Celebrate the Creed By Gabby Robinson – Class of 2014 This past year the people behind the scenes of the EYE on FYE celebration decided to do some tweaking of the contest rules, expand the types of entries allowed and frame the contest with a theme – the WCU Student Community Creed. The creed is a set of principles by which WCU the students are expected to live – the kinds of behaviors and actions that WCU students should embrace to be good students and citizens and a way of life that will help them to succeed on their “climb” here at Western Carolina. With the adoption of the theme, many other elements of the contest evolved. Instead of limiting entries to video documents, we expanded the contest to include multiple forms of creative expression, such as creative writing, poetry, photography, paintings, sculpture and craft. This gave students room to show their creative talents and individuality as they reflected on the theme. Another major change was to establish different award categories. The first category was for the best individual entry by one first-year student. The second category was for the best group entry (two to five first-year students working together for one submission). The third category was for the best entry by a student organization. This category opened the contest up to upper classmen and gave them an opportunity to set an example of how they celebrate the WCU Community Creed. The final category was for the best entry by a first-year residence hall (Scott, Walker, Buchanan and Balsam). The hall with the best floor entry was named the EYE on FYE Residence Hall of the Year – and for the class of 2015 that was Scott Hall. Scott received an engraved plaque and a giant trophy, also engraved with its name as the first hall winning the EYE on FYE trophy. The class of 2016 will determine where the trophy travels next spring – who will take the trophy this year? Will Scott Hall keep their claim to fame or will one of the other halls claim the distinction? The new changes and additions to the contest this past year led to an amazing entry pool filled with different interpretations and ways to celebrate the WCU Community Creed. I am sure this year will bring even more ideas and exciting opportunities. Personally, I am very excited for what the next year brings to the contest. So, are you ready to “Celebrate the Creed”? Visit the FYE student page online (www.wcu.edu/27934.asp) for lots of information to help you along the way.