Faculty attempt to rewrite First Year Experiences courses

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Freshman courses at Dixie State University are slated for big changes in the coming year.

In recent years, First Year Experience, or FYE, has attempted to pave the way to success for incoming freshmen and help improve retention rates among the student body. The program has faced a number of challenges since its inception. Of the FYE program, Public Services Librarian Dianne Aldrich said: “[Administration] had guidelines but very little consistency. They weren’t using all the same curriculum.”

Nothing has been officially approved, but many staff members are working around the clock on a new curriculum, which is tentatively being called the Trailblazer Connections course. 

Associate Provost Nancy Hauck is leading the project and hopes for the course to be finalized in February. Due to the Trailblazer Connections course still being in its planning stages, the following information is subject to change.

“We’re trying to give freshmen strong foundations for being able to succeed,” Aldrich said. “At [DSU], we have a dual mission: we’re not just an undergrad university. We also serve remedial students and students that would typically start in a community college.” 

The success of everyone who attends DSU is the primary function of this freshman year course. Everyone involved wants to see students getting the tools they need to be able to see their degree through to its end.

Critical thinking, discussion covering a range of topics including the importance of education, race and culture, and introduction to campus resources are all set to be facets of the new curriculum. The course is being designed around programs in place at other universities in the state that have had a track record of success.

In line with the aforementioned changes, the Library 1010 and CIS 1200 courses required in previous years are becoming elective courses.

“We’re teaching it out so that students who have failed or are on the old catalog and haven’t finished their degree yet still have it available,” Aldrich said.

LIB 1010 is being revamped and will have modules made available to professors to help their students have the necessary information at the time it becomes relevant to their coursework. 

“Information Literacy instruction will begin in these new first year courses and continue throughout the student’s education until their capstone,” Aldrich said.

The program changes won’t have an effect on students still using their old catalogs. If students stay with their old catalogs, which is highly recommended by staff and advisers, requirements will not change. For incoming freshmen, however, the course will be mandatory, said Kelly Peterson-Fairchild, dean of library and learning services.

The curriculum is set to go before an approval board in the coming weeks and if passed will be adopted as the new standard at DSU, said Peterson-Fairchild.