Your efforts, as dedicated faculty, are one of the primary reasons why, year after year, students who participate in First Year Success retain at higher rates and earn higher GPAs than students who do not participate.
We hope this guide will help you navigate the resources available to you as a faculty participant in First Year Success.
Welcome to the First Year Success program! Whether you are a seasoned FYS veteran or a first-time FYS instructor, teaching our first-year students can prove to be a professionally challenging but extraordinarily rewarding experience. I invite you to look for the best of your teaching self and bring it to these students who are hungry for the college experience and counting on you to show them the way to academic success at MSU Denver.
Our first-year students at MSU Denver are a diverse bunch! About 80% of the 2015-2016 class of freshmen comes to us straight from high school. Roughly 50% are Caucasian and 50% are students of color. We have transfer students and undocumented students, some will work and some will have families—in short, they present a broad spectrum of people with varied academic and social needs. The First Year Success program hopes to partner with you—the faculty members on the front line who interact with these students every day—to provide our freshman class with the support that they need to make it through their first year and then move forward into their second year and toward graduation.
In order to do this, we hope that you take advantage of everything that FYS has to offer in the following three areas: academic supports for students, engagement opportunities for students, and professional development and support for faculty. You can read more about the details of each of these areas in this Faculty Guide. If there is something that you do not see but would like to have incorporated into the First Year Success program, please tell us! We are anxious to provide any support necessary.
I urge you to consider your experience teaching in First Year Success as a professional development opportunity. There is so much potential for reflection and pedagogical growth, and your work can be combined with meaningful service that complements and enhances your practice. Consider applying for an FYS Travel Grant to attend a conference and learn more, or request a Co-curricular Activities Grant to expand your coursework into a more broad-scope event. Write an article about your experience and share the challenges and opportunities with a wider audience. In short, make your time in FYS into a highlight of your career.
Thank you very much for everything that you are doing and will do for our first-year students, now and throughout their time at MSU Denver. Faculty are the heart and soul of the student university experience, and we can’t tell you enough how much we appreciate the impact you make.
Have a fabulous year!
Lunden MacDonald, Director
First Year Success Mission Statement
First Year Success was created to increase student persistence, success and a passion for lifelong learning in a nurturing scholarly community. The program serves the needs of students through collaborative, engaging methods that:
● Foster on and off campus relationships;
● Connect learning to compelling issues; and
● Are culturally relevant.
The First College Year
The first college year sets the foundation for future success. As an instructor in First Year Success, you play a key role in ensuring our students develop the tools they need to thrive.
While it may seem like freshmen students only land in First Year Success courses, the truth is that they are scattered throughout all disciplines and course levels. What does the population of freshmen look like at MSU Denver this fall?
*50% are white, 50% are of other races/ethnicities.
*The average age is 19.
*80% are coming straight from high school.
*Only 4% are considered “not college ready.”
*There are many students in this cohort who live at or below poverty, who work part- or full-time, or who are undocumented.
When faced with such diversity, our typical teaching strategies often fall short. How then can we create a successful learning environment and employ effective pedagogy for first-year students who might be in our classes without lowering our standards?
Here are a couple of thoughts on how to set your self up for success with first-year students.
1. Start by thinking of the endgame for ALL students: a successful graduation. A recent Gallup poll (Click Here) says that among the student-identified keys to success for college students are:
*Professors who made them excited to learn
*Professors who cared about them as individuals
*Faculty mentors who pushed students to reach their goals
Consider how you might be this type of professor for any student in your course, and naturally you will impact any freshmen who are learning with you.
2. Intentionally employ the pedagogies and strategies that support the widest range of students. Among these are:
*Universal Design for Learning
*High Impact Practices
*Classroom Assessment Techniques
Again, many academic and social-emotional challenges faced by freshmen are faced by a wide range of students on our campus. By using the above-mentioned techniques, you are able to maintain consistently high standards while providing all students with the support they need.
3. Remember to not teach in isolation! If you are facing a challenge, get help—there are so many entities on campus ready and willing to assist you. A logical resource is the First Year Success Program, but don’t stop there. Visit the Center for Faculty Excellence, the Access Center, or any of the resource centers in the Student Success Center (website) like the free Tutoring Program. There is help available, so don’t forget to ask for it.**
Check out these resources that can give you some ideas around successful practices that will support first-year students!
*First Year Success Program website—here on the Faculty Resources page, scroll down and find a Bibliography and Literature Resources document as well as a First Year Success Faculty Guide. Good stuff!
*There is a wealth of information on Universal Design for Learning on the MSU Denver Access Center’s website. Check out the information on the Faculty Resources page here. Get good at it and you can even win an award!
*Take a look at the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) information on High-Impact Practices here. You will be surprised to see how many are offered at MSU Denver, and the first one listed is “First-Year Seminars and Experiences”!
*Angelo and Cross are at the forefront of Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs). This pdf documents 50 of the best CATs from their foundational book.
*Wlodkowski and Ginsberg’s work, A Framework for Culturally-Responsive Teaching: Strengthening Student Engagement, has some fabulous introductory ideas for how to intentionally introduce cultural competence into your pedagogy and into the classroom climate here.
Bibliography and Literature Resources for FYS Faculty
FYS Faculty Guide Fall 2015
FYS Syllabus Suggestions
FYS Funding Opportunities
FYS Faculty Incentives