- First-Year Seminars and Experiences
- Common Intellectual Experiences
- Learning Communities
- Writing-Intensive Courses
- Collaborative Assignments and Projects
- Undergraduate Research
- Diversity/Global Learning
- Why is it important?
- Service and Community-Based Learning
- Capstone Courses and Projects
A first-year seminar is meant to enhance the social and/or academic integration of students by exposing them to a variety of topics, peer support and skills that are essential for them to be successful in college (Jessup-Anger, 2011).
While FYS vary across institutions in terms of their form and function, the purpose of a FYS should be to model and encourage critical inquiry, information literacy and collaborative learning. There may be some differences among institutions on the frequency of the meetings, the content and structure of the seminars, their pedagogic orientation, and whether they are offered as a compulsory or an elective.
Below you’ll find the different types of first-year seminars as mentioned in Brownell and Swaner (2009, p.28).
- Extended orientation: The primary goal is to assist students in their transition to college/university campus. Students are typically introduced to the purpose of higher education, taught about campus resources, acquire study skills, explore academic and career development options, and tackle health and wellness issues.
- Academic (uniform content): Uniform content across courses that help students with the intellectual transition to college/university.These seminars assist students in acquiring academic skills in writing and critical thinking within an interdisciplinary or theme- oriented academic course.
- Academic (variable content): Variable content academic courses with a higher likelihood to be based in a single discipline rather than being an interdisciplinary course.
- Pre-professional or discipline-linked: Generally taken by students intending to enter a particular discipline or field of study. Such seminars prepare students for the demands of their discipline or future profession.
- Basic study skills: Usually targeting underprepared students and focusing on college-level skill development.
- Students experience more frequent and meaningful interactions with faculty and with other students (Goodman & Pascarella, 2006) which is important as research demonstrates the importance of social networking in fostering persistence and higher academic performance (Hommes, 2013)
- First-year seminars may contribute to increased student retention rates (Schnell & Doetkott, 2003; Jessup-Anger, 2011)
- Positive effects on student transition to college/university have also been associated to such seminars (Padgett, Keup, & Pascarella, 2013).
Associate Dean (Student Affairs)
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Associate Professor of History
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A general educational program that exposes students to common experiences or themes. It can include common courses or participation in a program that explores a large societal topic (Kuh & O’Donnell, 2013). The goal of providing a common experience is to have something that is easily understandable that students can refer to when studying and the instructor can use as a base when teaching new concepts (King & McConnell, 2010).
CIEs can take many forms including extracurricular activities, such as a reading club, to a fixed curriculum, such as core required courses. They may overlap with other HIPs.
Characteristics of effective CIEs include:
- Combining and integrating broader themes
- Linking learning from different courses
- Encouraging thinking about issues in a holistic way
- Integrating reflection activities
Keys to CIEs are: integration of learning across multiple experiences, reflection by students upon their learning and the integration of those diverse experiences.
According to López (2013), the common experience is based on five principles of effective instructional practice:
- Learning builds on people’s previous experiences
- Learning is most effective when it occurs in a social setting
- Diverse learning contexts supports people’s diverse learning needs
- Connected, organized and relevant information develops high-order thinking skills
- Feedback and active evaluation furthers new knowledge and skill development.
Learning communities can come in different forms. One way, is to organize or link courses around a curricular theme in order to help students find coherence in what they’re learning through increased interaction (Kuh, 2008; Butler & Dawkins, 2007). Students within the same cohort enroll in the same group of linked courses (Dodge & Kendall, 2004) that typically promote active learning strategies such as collaborative or cooperative learning, writing, service learning, problem-based learning etc. (Butler & Dawkins, 2007). The overall idea is that a more meaningful educational experience will be created by bringing students and faculty together (Huerta, 2004).
Learning communities are positively linked to:
- Students’ intellectual and cognitive development (Shapiro & Levine, 1999)
- Active and collaborative learning, and purposeful student-faculty interaction (Shapiro, 2008).
- Student participation, educational development, satisfaction, and personal and social development (Zhao & Kuh, 2004). Improved analytical thinking/problem-solving, writing skills, reading skills, critical thinking skills (Riehle & Weiner, 2013).
The characteristics of a learning community (Burden, 2003; Cox, 2007) are:
- Membership is usually voluntary;
- Members have common goals, objectives, values, and vision;
- Members require connectedness and trust;
- Members develop and encourage a supportive learning environment;
- Members have open and autonomous communication;
- Instructor’s role is primarly to be the facilitator;
- Students assume leadership roles, self-regulated learning, and support everyone in the community
Coordinator, Community Development and Student Engagement
Housing & Residence Life Services
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Writing-intensive courses are meant to encourage students to create and revise different forms of writing that are intended for various audiences and disciplines (Wawrzynski & Baldwin, 2014). Carnes, Awang and Smith (2015) state that these courses “provide a means of addressing declining student writing proficiency” (p.2) and promote a deeper understanding of the course content by using various types of writing assignments. The goals of writing-intensive courses are to have students engage in issues related to the discipline, participate in academic discussions and link their writing with their desire to learn more about the field of study. This in turn will help to develop students as good writers (Carnes et al., 2015).
- The repeated practice has led to parallel efforts in such areas as quantitative reasoning, oral communication, information literacy, and on some campuses, ethical inquiry (Sandeen, 2012).
- Helps students to learn the diction of their field of study and how to portray their thoughts effectively (Leggette & Homeyer, 2015).
- Learning to write well fosters improvement in critical thinking and increased confidence in overall ability to succeed (Melzer, 2009; Myhill & Jones, 2007).
In a collaborative learning environment, students collectively work towards a common academic goal (Kotsopoulos, 2010). Types of collaborative assignments and projects include team based assignments, research, study groups (Kuh, 2008). Several characteristics of collaborative learning environments include students participating in meaningful engagements, learning from one another that facilitates independent learning, individual and social accountability (knowledge, skills and/or common goals are assessed or needed for future learning), and collective efforts by all students (Kotsopoulos, 2010).
Collaborate learning has two main objectives:
- To work and solve problems with others;
- To develop individual understanding by hearing the perspectives of others, particularly those with different backgrounds and life-experiences.
Experiencing collaborate work by itself does not guarantee that learners have learned from it. Using a reflection activity helps students identify what they have learned from both positive and negative experiences (Ellis & Hafner, 2008). This reflection will facilitate transfer of knowledge and skills to new situations.
According to De Hei, Strijbos, Sjoer and Admiraal (2015), collaborative assignments and projects helps students to:
- Prepare for jobs where they may work in a team environment;
- Enhance their emotional development and cognitive learning;
- Develop cognitive skills and pro-social behaviours such as problem solving, acquiring empathy and providing assistance to those in need.
While undergraduate research has usually been limited to the sciences, it is now becoming common in all disciplines. The goal is to involve students in investigating current questions, to engage them in empirical observation, and to promote the sense of excitement that comes from working to answer important questions. It “…provides students opportunities to work with a professor in their field and gain experience with the research process and be awarded for noteworthy work” (Discovery Centre, n.d).
Students who engage in undergraduate research:
- Are more likely to continue onto graduate and professional education (Brownell & Swaner, 2009; Craney, McKay, Mazzeo, Morris, Prigodich, & de Groot, R, 2011).
- Are prepped for career and graduate school, and acquire skills such as communication, lab/field techniques, and teamwork (Riehle & Weiner, 2013).
- Increase their self-confidence in their research abilities, active learning and interest in careers related to science (Rogers & McDowell, 2015).
- Are more satisfied with their overall educational experience (Brownell & Swaner, 2009)
- Increase their ability to integrate diverse areas of knowledge, solve complex problems, think critically and improve their ability to communicate both orally and in written format, according to North Dakota State University.
Director, Discovery Centre
Discovery Centre website
This high-impact practice refers to international field courses as well as courses and programs that provide opportunities to students to engage in experiences and study world cultures and topics from global perspectives. Students get to explore issues such as “racial, ethnic, and gender inequality, or continuing struggles around the globe for social justice” (Sandeen, 2012, p. 83-84).
The aims of global learning are to:
- Recognize and value differing perspectives and experiences;
- Foster understanding of other cultures;
- Improve the ability to work with others;
- Encourage commitment to collaborate on solving global problems;
- Provide increased access to opportunities for marganilized groups (Banks, 2004; Clarke & Drudy, 2006).
- Exploring student diversity creates values, norms, skills and new ways of thinking (Ramburuth & Tani, 2009).
- Students gain a sense of educational achievement when they know they can use the knowledge they’ve learned in their native language in their new classroom (Shelley, W., & Teuben-Rowe, 1997).
- Diverse peer interactions foster intercultural knowledge, and awareness and behavioural competencies (Lee, Williams, & Kilaberia, 2012).
Service and Community Based Learning is a pedagogical approach by which students participate in a structured community project as part of a regular credit-bearing course (Brownell & Swaner, 2009). Students are expected to engage in meaningful reflections on their community service activity and make connections to course content and theoretical concepts that will allow them to acquire a broader sense of their discipline and the meaning of civic contribution (Deeley, 2010; Straus & Eckenrode, 2014; Preiser-Houy & Navarrete, 2006). The most important aspect of service learning design is ensuring that student service experiences are linked directly to classroom learning (Brownell & Swaner, 2009).
Essential components of service learning and community-based learning include:
- Ongoing opportunities for reflection, including the impact of the experience on how they think about social conditions, values and moral obligations.
- Course readings are linked to the activities and the community population they are working with (Elyer & Giles, 1999).
- Students have a better understanding of course concepts, increased self-awareness, self-confidence and appreciation for and commitment to service (O’Connor, 2012).
- Positive academic performance (writing skills, GPA, critical thinking skills), self-efficacy, leadership, values and plans to work after college (O’Connor, 2012; Riehle & Weiner, 2013).
Internships provide students with work experiences typically related to their career interests at an organization, agency or trade where they can earn an academic credit upon completion in the workplace (Di, 2014). They often occur towards the end of a program and can vary in term of duration and compensation (Stirling, Banwell, Battaglia, Bandealy, MacPherson, Kerr, 2014).
Common elements of internships include:
- a focus on work and/or professional contexts
- the integration of knowledge and theory
- the application of practical skills
High quality internships:
- Require considerable student effort
- Help students build substantive relationships by interacting with faculty and peers over a substantive amount of time
- Place students in contexts in which they have direct contact with people who are different from themselves;
- Provide students with frequent feedback about their performance;
- Provide opportunities for students to transfer learning to different settings;
- Help students gain a better understanding of self in relation to others (Kuh, 2008, pp. 14-17).
Internships give students the opportunity to:
- Prepare for graduate school, help others, understand diversity, and enhance their personal well-being (Coker & Porter, 2015)
- Make connections between their work and imminent concepts (Weible & McClure, 2011).
The following departments at Carleton offer internships:
- Political Science
- Sprott School of Business
- School of Industrial Design
- Film Studies
- School of International Affairs
- Institute of African Studies
After discussing with the chair of your department you would contact:
Manager, Co-operative Education Program
613-520-2600 ext. 2222
Capstone courses are a culminating experience in which students create a project that integrates and applies what they have learned towards the end of the course (Kuh, 2008). The project can range from performances to research papers to portfolios displaying their best work (Kuh, 2008). To prepare students for life-long learning, these courses should encourage students to be engaged learners (Rash & Weld, 2013) and give students the opportunity to reflect on what they have learned and reconstruct the knowledge and skills they have gained (Edgar, Edgar & Miller, 2011).
- Scholarly research
- Independent lab work
- Original design work
- Fine arts presentation or performance or recital
- Critical analysis of literature
- Business plan Research paper
- Art showcase
- Software development code and documentation
- Engineering project
- Musical composition
- Summary paper of internship or practicum
- Lab journals of scientific experiment process
- Capstone students “experience the value of professional networks and get an early introduction to many value conflicts and ethical dilemmas similar to these they will face in their careers” (Schachter & Schwartz, 2009, p. 446).
- Capstone courses provide students with a learning environment where they are given the opportunity to apply the skills they learned in school (Bringula, 2015).
- “These courses embody the types of deep learning experiences that are beneficial to students in mastering and integrating the complexities of the field” (Grahe & Hauhart, 2013, p. 1).
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