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First-Year Experience at Georgia Southern takes an academic turn

POSTED: June 14, 2007 5:02 a.m.

During the fall 2006 semester, a task force comprised of faculty from each college and including a representative of the Bulloch County School System met regularly to discuss ways to improve the First-Year Experience (FYE), a program that serves students new to Georgia Southern University. One result of the task force’s work is a new event: Conversations with Professors.

“The philosophy adopted by the First-Year Experience Task Force emphasizes that the program must set a proper academic tone,” said Chris Caplinger, FYE director. “We need to articulate our academic expectations to incoming students right away, and one way to ensure this is to involve faculty with new students at the very beginning of their experience at Georgia Southern. Conversations with Professors will accomplish this.”

More than 100 faculty members have already volunteered to take part in Conversations with Professors on Aug. 12, from 3:30-4:45 p.m.

Students are assigned to a section and enrolled at summer SOAR session by their academic college. Faculty who have volunteered will be assigned a section of 25 students from their college.

“Students entering Georgia Southern are welcomed to their residence halls and to the student life opportunities on campus,” said Tom Case, professor of information systems and a member of the task force. “On the academic side, we thought students should receive an academic welcome to the classroom.”

“When the task force brainstormed with faculty about the specific content of Conversations with Professors, it became apparent that there are many different ways to structure effective sessions,” explained Jessica Orvis, assistant professor of chemistry and a member of the task force. “We’ve provided some faculty resources on the FYE Web site. Other than a focus on students’ roles as learners and faculty expectations in the classroom, faculty members are free to craft their conversation in any manner they see fit. What’s important is that, as a faculty, we are setting an academic tone for students.”

Faculty in each conversation will have the assistance of a student “conversations assistant” (CA). In addition to the administrative task of checking attendance, CAs are meant to model the types of productive relationships faculty and students should develop.

Participating faculty members may invite a student of their choice to assist in the program or ask the FYE office to assign one.

For more information visit the Georgia Southern Web site at http://academics.georgiasouthern.edu/fye/conversations.htm.

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