Thursday, October 11, 2007

2007 First Year Conference

Today I attended UW-Madison's 9th annual conference on first-year students.

I came away impressed by the variety of people committed to making students' first year a good one and the depth to which many have thought and worked in this area.

I took three themes away from the event:

1. It is critical that students be exposed to the big picture, big questions, big problems of a given field in order to draw them in and provide useful context for studying the details of a problem/course/discipline. Many instructors are redesigning their courses (and in one case, creating a new textbook) around this concept.

2. Institutional learning outcomes, such as those described by LEAP, must permeate down to the course level and not just left to the end of a career.

3. Portfolios. Academic Technology could be a significant part of the discussion on the practical side of students showing they have met the outcomes.

e-Portfolios allow:
  • students to make connections across multiple experiences
  • students to reflect upon their experiences
  • students to share their collections/reflections with others (including advisors, job interviewers, family)
  • faculty, advisors, administrators to provide evidence of achieving LEAP outcomes
  • graduates to provide evidence to future employers
  • graduates to track their own learning over time

Here is my full collection of notes from the conference.

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