Choice Matters: A “First in 2009” Initiative for Enhancing Miami University’s First-Year Experience
Hoyt Brown Jeannie Brown Leonard Jennie Dautermann David Doyle Jackie Elcik Carolyn Haynes (co-chair) Mike Mills Denny Roberts (co-chair) Lee Sanders Kate Schaab Spring 2002 Committee
Mary Jane Berman Hoyt Brown (coordinator) Mike Curme Gail Della Piana Steve DeLue Yildirim Dilek Dan Early Jackie Elcik Carolyn Haynes (co-chair) Howard Kleiman Kathleen Knight-Abowitz Enid LaGesse Cindy Lewiecki-Wilson Gabriel Lofton Peter Magolda (coordinator) Kristen McCartney Denny Roberts (co-chair) Judith Sessions Elizabeth Stanley Ben Vodila 2002-03 Committee
Institutional Challenges • President Garland set goal for MU to be premier university in its class by 2009. • MU is losing high-ability and multicultural students to other institutions. • Students are not perceived to be challenged intellectually and academically. • Students are perceived to spend too much time on co-curricular, extra-curricular and social endeavors.
Faculty Challenges • Faculty perceive MU to have history of “top-down” initiatives. • MU faculty are disheartened about prospects for institutional change, recent budget cuts and bulging class sizes. • Miami Plan Foundation courses are large—containing many students with varying abilities and interest levels. • Faculty increasingly are asked to do more and more (e.g., research, service, grant writing, recruiting, advising, teaching).
Student Challenges • Soaring tuition costs; greater need to work to pay off debts. • Increasing concern for a “return” on their investment. • Stiffer competition for top-level jobs and placement in graduate and professional schools. • Higher emotional stress. • Perception that many majors and leadership activities lead to greater post-graduation success.
Provost’s Charge • To improve the holistic experience of Miami’s first-year students, connecting existing programs and strengthening the interaction between Student and Academic Affairs. • To place special emphasis on enhancing First in 2009 goals.
Choice Matters • A unifying theme and vision that advances intellectual challenge by helping students, faculty and staff make explicit and purposeful connections among parts of the curriculum and between the curriculum and other aspects of the collegiate experience. • It endorses the idea that everyone should make purposeful decisions about their lives and reflect carefully on the relationships among those decisions.
Founding Assumptions of Choice Matters Vision • Learning “builds cumulatively and emerges through intensive engagements during a student’s entire education, so links are important . . . throughout the college years, among courses, between general education and the major, between traditional in-class and experiential learning, between formal and informal settings” (AAC&U “Greater Expectations”).
Founding Assumptions (cont’d) • Cognitive learning is enhanced when students are also provided purposeful opportunities to develop interpersonally and emotionally. • Faculty, staff, administrators, and students must all communicate and work together to improve the entire first-year experience. • A strong first year will provide strong foundation for the next four years at college.
Choice Matters is . . . • Not meant to be a “Pollyanna” slogan • Not intended to be a marketing scheme • An easy-to-remember way of encapsulating the complex and broad-based goals of an intellectually challenging and enriching first-year experience.
Choice MattersFive Broad Themes • Set high expectations about learning for yourself and others • Make purposeful decisions and focused use of time and resources • Take risks to promote learning in a diverse and complicated world • Work with others to deepen your understanding of self • Integrate and reflect critically on knowledge gained from diverse experiences
Choice Matters Objectives(already underway) • Promotional materials and information during Summer Orientation • “Learning Goals” worksheet incorporated into Summer Reading Program discussions, corridor meetings and first-year advising sessions • Mega Fair • Developmental advising emphasis in residence halls
Choice Matters Objectives(already underway) • Student organization intervention • Public endorsements by President and Provost • Pamphlet sent to all faculty • Appointment of Co-Coordinators for First-Year Experience (Pete Magolda and Hoyt Brown) • Presentations to all Student Affairs Directors and Department Chairs
Choice Matters Objectives (already underway) • Departmental/divisional discussions about grading criteria, enrollment management and “right-size” classrooms (COAD) • Plan and institute University-wide, First-Year Seminars that are challenging, enhance diversity, and involve active learning. Pilot 8-10 in 2003-04 and gradually increase as resources allow.
First Year Seminars • Purposes of First Year Seminars • Seminar Parameters • Pedagogical Assumptions and Objectives • Implementation Strategies
Future Choice Matters Objectives • Create a FYE Website. • Revise campus tours, Red Carpet Days, and Open Houses to emphasize academic learning. • Audit and revise publications and other marketing campaigns to stress intellectual learning.
Future Choice Matters Objectives • Involve more faculty in Summer Orientation and FYI planning and implementation to enhance the emphasis on academics. • Enhance programming for Harrison and Oxford Scholars. • Develop more divisional and departmental honors programs. • Expand opportunities for faculty development (teaching MPF courses in challenging way, working with first-year students).
Future Choice Matters Objectives • Plan Summer Reading book three years in advance. • Increase faculty participation in the Theme Learning Communities courses and programming, especially the “Courses in Common” TLC. • Offer awards and incentives for participating in the FYE.
Choice Matters General Outcomes • A more intellectually engaged, challenged student body • A faculty that is engaged actively in undergraduate teaching, especially in first-year seminars and MPF courses • A university climate that supports and rewards intellectual and academic challenge and that sets high expectations of students, faculty, staff and administrators • Increasing communication and collaboration between Academic and Student Affairs faculty and staff
Questions to Consider • What aspects of the Choice Matters vision are most relevant to ORL? • How can we further involve ORL in the first-year experience? • What can the Choice Matters initiative do to support ORL and its agenda?
Contact Information • Peter Magoldamagoldpm@muohio.edu(513) 529-4950