Successful Liberal Arts Students:Reflecting on the Development of Student Skills and Agency

April 21-22, 2012
ACM Chicago Programs Office, Chicago, IL

Some variation on a unique First Year program is fundamental to the experience of incoming students at ACM colleges. These programs offer exciting seminars or experiences that are attractive to students, provide some sense of cohesiveness among the entering class, provide support for students' transition to college, introduce new students to meaningful advising relationships, offer an opportunity for goal setting and development of student agency, and serve often as the primary locus for improving student writing and critical thinking skills. These programs aim to increase first-year students' intellectual engagement and their investment in the institution and its mission. Our colleges also recognize the need to explore and identify direct measures of student learning outcomes in these programs. We must answer questions such as: Which new programs and curricular refinements, centered around first-year experiences and strategies for enhancing student agency are most effective? How can we know? How can we work together to address these questions?

Two FaCE projects, First-Year Learning Outcomes and Their Assessment and Developing Student Agency came together to present an opportunity for faculty across ACM campuses interested in these topics to learn from each other about work in these related areas. Both projects have completed their first phases, in which faculty at Beloit, Colorado, Lake Forest, Coe, Carleton, Cornell, and Grinnell Colleges as well as Lawrence University collaborated across institutions in order to share approaches and incubate new ideas. We have created student learning outcomes for First Year experiences and ways to measure those outcomes directly, including the development of student agency. This workshop represents the culminating phase of these projects, where faculty and administrators from across the ACM colleges were brought together to share models for accomplishments in these areas.

This workshop was a collaborative event for ACM faculty members. The goals of the workshop were:

  • to demonstrate models which address common issues in First Year programs and their assessment;
  • to consider methods for enhancing and assessing student agency;
  • to provide solutions to the challenge of enriching experience for first year students;
  • and to consider the role of institutional research in these domains.

To do this, the group came together on Saturday, April 21 and Sunday, April 22, 2012, in Chicago to share project outcomes, develop common strategies and tools, and explore future endeavors to achieve similar goals on their campuses.

Workshop activities included:

  • Panels sharing project outcomes and common issues
  • Breakout sessions on challenges and solutions faced on our campuses regarding First Year programs
  • Interactive workshop sessions on developing and using rubrics to assess writing skills and student agency
  • Sharing useful resources on related topics

      Next Page »