Senate Document Number 5700S

Date of Senate Approval 5/4/00

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Statement of Faculty Senate Action:

APC document 44:   Addition of First-Year Experience program description

Effective Date: Fall 2000

No Deletions

Add: the following entry for First-Year Experience on page 111 (before French and after Environmental Studies)


Sarah Bumgarner, Director

The First-Year Experience program is specifically designed for first-year students and supports the University mission of providing the best possible opportunity to acquire the skills, knowledge and understanding necessary to pursue educational and professional goals. All First-Year Experience courses, regardless of academic theme, are designed to incorporate a core of common experiences. These courses may be taken by first-year students, students transferring 12 or fewer hours, or with permission of instructor or program director. Courses cannot be repeated for credit.

192 First-Year Experience Seminar (2-3)

An introduction to the undergraduate experience and the meaning, value, and career relevance of the liberal arts. This seminar incorporates a common core of competencies and expectations for the new UNCA student within the context of an academic theme. Courses topics vary, are often interdisciplinary in nature or may focus on a particular field.

IMPACT: This proposal would have no impact on any current major, minor, or University requirements

A. This proposal may have resource implications for those departments choosing to cross-list their own department offerings with First-Year Experience due to the enrollment cap of 15. However, since there is no required participation by any department, class size and its impact on their departmental resources, would be one of the issues a department would consider when analyzing its participation in the program.

B. This proposal does not affect the program's staffing needs or course offerings.

RATIONALE: The First-Year Experience program is in its fourth year of operation continuing to "borrow" course offerings each Fall semester from other academic departments.

The following points support the rationale for offering a course as a "free-standing" offering.

1) Allows faculty to offer FYE courses which do not fit the more focused offerings within academic disciplines based in their home department.

2) Since the course is not tightly tied to any one tradition-bound and politically-guarded academic discipline, it has the flexibility to adopt diverse topics and adapt to emerging higher educational issues and contemporary student needs. (Diversity, critical thinking, service-learning, technology)

3) Courses have the ability to serve as a gateway which introduces students to the meaning, purpose, and value of a college education, as well as the academic disciplines which comprise the liberal arts.

4) The content and objective are consistent with the ideals and mission of higher education, and the lifelong learning goals that our university propose.

5) The first-year seminar may be the only occasion in the student's entire college experience (other than the 2 day orientation) that a faculty member articulates what it is we (as an institution) are attempting to do, and why it is good to be here.

A separate course would not eliminate the need to continue "borrowing" from other academic programs. It would allow interested faculty to participate without making the difficult choices between content of their current courses and meeting FYE guidelines which serve alternative learning goals and objectives.

First-Year Experience

Mission Statement
The ultimate aim of the University is to provide students the best possible opportunity to acquire the skills, knowledge and understanding necessary to pursue their goals, to find meaning in their lives, and to take their places as contributing citizens of a changing society. The First-Year Experience program contributes to the achievement of this mission specifically by:

1. Promoting first-year student adjustment, involvement, integration, commitment to the educational process, and success.

2. Providing a supportive community of learning which encourages innovation in curriculum and instruction.

3. Providing opportunities for students to develop their interests and abilities beyond the classroom through co-curricular programming.

4. Positively impacting retention, graduation rates, and academic success and commitment by providing appropriate learning experiences for first-year students

Program Goals
Students participating in the First-Year Experience program will

1. Experience academic success(e.g., retention, academic achievement, commitment to, preparation for, and admission to an academic major, and timely completion of degree) and develop positive learning attitudes that increase student commitment and responsibility for their own learning.

2. Participate in first- year seminars, and relevant co-curricular programming that will facilitate student involvement and integration into the campus community and promote first year student success, selection and commitment to an appropriate major, and timely completion of an undergraduate degree.

3. Understand the connection between academic experiences and related career options.

4. Experience a positive, integrative, and supportive first-year at UNCA.

Goal Assessment
The quality of experience and achievement of program objectives will be measured by qualitative and quantitative methods which include:

1. Retention of FYE participants.

2. Predicted vs actual GPA's of FYE participants.

3. Average course load of FYE participants.

4. Extensive use of the Sophomore Survey results with specific attention to questions which address program goals.

5. First-Year Experience Course evaluations.

6. Faculty summaries of their own experience of participation in the FYE program.

Uses of Assessment
The assessment of program objectives is integral to the continuous improvement and ultimate success of the program. Assessment is used in the following ways:

1. Determine achievement of current goals as well as to the guide the advisory committee in the development of future goals.

2. Annual discussion by the program advisory committee of assessment results for modifying curriculum and courses.

3. Development of annual faculty workshop agenda and programming needs.

4. Development of annual First-Year Seminar Series format and topics.

Planning, Process and Implementation
Planning for the First-Year Experience Program occurs primarily in the Spring and Summer. This planning includes the development of course offerings, First-Year Seminar Series, along with additional programming of student events (such as drama, athletic, cultural events) and support services (Career Center, Counseling Center, Financial Aid, Advising) This process is very fluid. As information from the previous fall becomes available and continues to develop in the Spring, it plays an important role in determining offerings and co-curricular events. There is a conscious effort to remain flexible in order to adjust quickly to both student and faculty needs, evaluations, responsibilities and interests. It culminates in the early summer with faculty workshops which all participating faculty attend. During the day long workshops, the mission, goals, and expected outcomes are discussed at length. There is formal discussion about course design level of first-year students academically and developmentally.

During the Fall semester informal meetings occur while the program is actually in process. These usually consist of several open lunch meetings, and scheduled afternoon sessions where faculty are invited to share information and exchange ideas.