Transition to Kean Twentieth Anniversary

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Transition to Kean Twentieth
Anniversary
John N. Gardner
Executive Director, Policy Center on the First Year
of College
Kean University of New Jersey
April 7, 2006
Some Observations on the Remarkable History
of First-Year Improvement Efforts at Kean
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started in the 1970’s with first push
from Student Affairs
early and long history of SA/AA
partnership
early and long history of senior faculty
investment
early history of involving faculty in
assessment of impact
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seminar led Kean to learn more about
what new students needed and respond
accordingly
1985 leads to establishment of the
Freshman Center
in high rent space, the Library, to set
the tone
note name: FreshMAN
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lesson from the Center: make it inviting
and students will come
1986 seminar established
1987 added peer leaders=established
Kean as an early adopter
1995 renamed Center for NEW Students
1995 10th anniversary celebration
think about importance of establishing
traditions and commemorating with
rituals
1997 designated classroom
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1998 developed and published own text
1999 cited by The Times
note role of national newspapers
2000 text translated into Spanish
2002 renamed center and course for
“First-Year”
2005 New Jersey Assoc for New
Student Advocates established
2006 20th anniversary
The Big Picture: New Jersey and the
Nation: What have we accomplished?
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first year taken more seriously
FYE in the lexicon
CAO's leading the charge
widespread adoption of “programs”
birth of a new profession
A focus of many organizations
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Press coverage
A new language
FYE conferences and Centers have
flourished
Other providers emerge
What have we accomplished?
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A new field of scholarly research
and dissemination
A marriage with shameless
commerce
Moving beyond to other
"transitions"
A newer focus on engagement
What have we Accomplished?
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A marriage with accountability
movement and reaccreditation
(http://www.ncahlc.org/index.php?%20
option=com_content&task=view&%20i
d=97&Itemid=86)
A set of aspirational standards
developed (www.fyfoundations.org)
Becomes an international movement
What’s Missing?
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Insufficient engagement
High rate DWFI courses
Still too much attrition
Tenuous nature of FYE programs and
leadership
"Program" nature of response vs
comprehensive institutional
What’s Missing?
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Under resourced--still the cash cow
model
A mantra that is not academically
compelling (retention)
Competition for resources in an
indifferent culture
Getting the students' attention
Looking towards the next 25
years: my three big bets:
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Continue to strengthen USC’s National
Resource Center and Policy Center’s
setting of the reform agenda
Campus wide self studies for planning
and action (www.fyfoundations.org)
Linking with reaccredidation
(http://www.ncahlc.org/index.php?%2
0option=com_content&task=view&%2
0id=97&Itemid=86)
What else would I like to see?
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Reducing our tolerance for failure
Declaring war on math failure
Taking more responsibility for
student learning vs blaming the
victim
Redesign introductory courses
What else would I like to see?
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Special attention to high DWFI rate
courses
Focus on the students we have
instead of "better" students
Intentional actions to develop the
next generation of leaders
Tackle the problem of quality in the
first-year seminar
Trends in FYE Programming
The Changing Demographics of
First-Year Students’ Impact on
the First-Year Experience
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central challenge remains adapting
the college experience to those for
whom it was not designed
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cost pressures may mean fewer FTIC’s and
more transfers, thus meaning the FYE has
been outsourced to the cc’s
as college costs increase and financial aid
falls further behind, will be more difficult
to attend full time
part-time students less likely to get
involved; thus, more necessary for the
faculty to provide support
II. The First-Year Seminar vs
the “First-Year Experience”
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terms used interchangeably
but they aren’t the same thing
we have tried to improve the FYE by
the first-year seminar
and we have had significant impact
but to move forward have to now focus
on the total FYE
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need to examine FYE as unit of analysis
FYE means the totality of beginning
college experience
this is also a way to improve the
seminar
seminar needs to be connected to the
rest of the FYE
III. Impact of Budget Cuts on
Programs: What Can Go?
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is a question of values
what does the institution value?
this is why “advocacy” is so important
clues to what may happen lie in what
has happened in last round of cuts
whereby most likely to go were:
1) programs least related to student
learning
2) those in Student Affairs vs Academic
Affairs
3) programs deemed less central to
institutional mission
4) high cost vs low enrollment
5) programs with little or no assessment
data
6) programs where those in power
wanted to “whack” the unit head
 many of these are Sophie’s choices
 what can go? Well depends on whom
you ask
 one criteria might be: what is most
essential for student success? By this
criteria, how does math stack up vs
first-year seminar?
IV. Assessment
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”Assessment free zones” vs: those
elements most likely to be assessed,
which are:
the newer
 the least powerful
 the most controversial
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those that have been too pushy in
seeking additional resources
those where the administrative
leadership is most genuinely interested
in educational improvement and using
assessment as means to achieve that
those on campuses with less than
satisfactory levels of retention, student
satisfaction, performance on licensure
exams
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those in campuses under most pressure
from regional accreditors
I believe the real action today is in
linking FYE to reaccreditation
Remember, the first year is the base
line for assessment
V. Programs for
Sophomores and Seniors
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applying what we have learned from FYE
to other transitions
is the second year when toughest
decisions have to be made about
commitment
critical role of advising and career planning
key is transition from central support units
to local academic units=a true cottage
industry
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what about the curriculum beyond the
first year and general ed?
how does the curriculum introduce
students to the major and when?
senior year needs transition courses and
capstone experiences
VI. Do All Populations Need a
FYE Course? Is the First-Year
Seminar for Everyone?
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all students are in transition
all need some support, even the most
able
question may assume one size fits all
but all students and all seminars not the
same
may be a life boat exercise—if can’t
provide a seminar for all, then who
should receive? Options, same as in
society:
1) take care of the wealthy
2) the great unwashed middle
3) the bottom tier (can argue they need it
the most, but may benefit the least)
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DE version of the seminar may be the
kiss of death
may be safer to focus on the middle to
gain political support
VI. Learning Communities
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may be the best thing since sliced bread, but
there are some detractors
gaining momentum to rival first-year seminar
achieving greater faculty involvement and
ownership
work in all kinds of institutions, all kinds of
students
Recommend you go visit Lehman College of
the Bronx
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beware of silo effect; need alliances with:
first-year seminar (most commonly
linked)
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first-year composition
residence life
service learning
faculty development
student support services
registrar and space czar
VII. Where Does the FYE
Course Belong?
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the Golden Rule: wherever it will get the
most attention, support and respect (but
aren’t always one and the same!)
where is it housed? Academic Affairs,
Student Affairs, traditional academic
departments, and DE
differences on two vs four-year campuses
important partnerships between academic
and student affairs
faculty involvement is key to longevity and
credit
Now what else would YOU
like to talk about?
Discussion
Contact Information:
John N. Gardner
[email protected]
828-966-5309
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