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Residential Learning Communities and Common Reading Programs



I gave this presentation to the First Year Course Instructors Community as part of the FYCIC Series at University of Victoria on 10 November 2010.

I gave this presentation to the First Year Course Instructors Community as part of the FYCIC Series at University of Victoria on 10 November 2010.



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    Residential Learning Communities and Common Reading Programs Residential Learning Communities and Common Reading Programs Presentation Transcript

    • Residential Learning Communities & Common Reading Programs:Recipe for Success at Washington State University
      Julie Meloni
      jcmeloni@gmail.com // academicsandbox.com // @jcmeloni
      University of Victoria // 10 Nov 2010
    • Public Research Institution
      over 18,000 students at Pullman campus
      12 colleges, 200 fields of study
      100 undergraduate majors
      student to faculty ratio of 15:1
      University College
      Administrative unit under the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education
      Supports academic excellence
      Fosters outstanding teaching and learning
      Washington State University
    • Freshman Focus Program
      University-wide residential learning community program for incoming freshman
      First-semester freshman take one or two GER courses together along with their residence hall peers
      Approximately 2700-3000 freshmen per year
      3 key components:
      Student-student interactions
      Faculty-student interactions
      Integrative learning
    • Students in my Fall 2008 composition sections were in the Freshman Focus program
      Lived in the same dorm, typically within a floor or two
      Shared two courses (World Civ and Introductory Writing)
      Participated in academically-oriented activities outside of the classroom both with and without their instructors.
      Were part of a cohort of approximately 100 students.
      An Example Learning Environment
    • Meloni/Johnson/Snyder FF Cluster
      ENGLISH 101
      ENGLISH 101
      GenEd 111
      GenEd 111
      ENGLISH 101
      ENGLISH 101
    • The other composition instructor (Toria Johnson) and I decided to teach from the same syllabus.
      We also taught together on several days
      I joined her at 8am, she joined me at 2pm
      We combined our 11am classes and taught together to 50 students
      Students did in-class group work with their peers from the “other” section.
      We required student attendance at many out-of-class activities, at which we were also present.
      The Learning Environment (cont’d)
    • Meloni/Johnson Coordination
      ENGLISH 101
      ENGLISH 101
      ENGLISH 101
      ENGLISH 101
      IN-DORM and
      • The goal of the FF program is to increase engagement in the University; the Common Reading Program enables this engagement.
      Single book chosen by a committee to be read by freshmen, and used in their courses and special programs outside the classroom
      Professors, Librarians, and Residence Hall staff, all “bring to life” topics raised in the texts.
      Texts chosen aim to introduce students to:
      the value of research
      the power of ideas, and
      the various but related ways in which disciplines across the institution approach similar problems.
      Common Reading Program
    • Faculty across the University:
      Center for Civic Engagement
      PASS (Pathways to Academic Success)
      Residence Life
      World Civilization
      Nominations taken from all University faculty, staff, students.
      Common Reading Program Committee
    • Flu: The Story of the Great Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus that Caused It (2007)
      Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (2008)
      The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (2009)
      Common Reading Texts
    • Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan
      Sequel to Mortenson’sThree Cups of Tea
      In 2010…
      "As they use the text in classes and related activities this fall I believe that every freshman will learn a great deal about the issues in the book, as well as about themselves, society, and importantly, about how a research university addresses global problems.“ – Provost Warwick Bayley
    • Movie screening and Q&A: The Kite Runner
      Professor of Geology
      discussed tectonic plates and the literal “stones” of the text
      Professor of History
      discussed the history of Afghanistan and the region
      Professor of Education
      discussed the current political environment
      Professor of Architecture
      discussed rebuilding ancient cities
      Professor of Political Science
      discussed stability and security in the region
      Student panel
      explores and discusses what it means to be Muslim
      Author visit, lecture, and Q&A
      Common Reading Events
    • Continued increase in students’ understanding of the research that occurs at a university
      Increase in classroom use of the common reading
      Overall positive response to questions concerning goals:
      Create opportunities for entering students and faculty to engage in discussion in informal small groups.
      Communicate academic expectations
      Introduce entering freshmen to the intellectual life of WSU
      Enable faculty to connect with pre-majors informally
      Expose students to rich diversity of ideas at a research university
      Create additional common ground and common experience in the freshman year
      Outcomes (‘09-’10)
    • Leslie Jo Sena
      Instructor, Department of English
      E-mail at: senal@wsu.edu
      Karen Weathermon
      Director of Learning Communities
      E-mail at: kweathermon@wsu.edu
      WSU Contacts