About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 7746-7751
Publication year: 2018
ISBN: 978-84-697-9480-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2018.1846

Conference name: 12th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2018
Location: Valencia, Spain

CHANGING BEHAVIOR THROUGH A FRESHMAN SEMINAR COURSE EXPERIENCE

D. Psihountas

Webster University (UNITED STATES)
Earlier in her career, the researcher had an opportunity to develop and teach a Freshman Seminar course at her university. Her university used a cross-disciplinary panel to review proposals and to select several each year that would be offered to students. All freshmen were required to enroll in one, and the purpose for the seminar was multi-fold. First, in keeping with common thinking in higher education, the freshman seminar was designed as a retention tool. Students who don't engage socially in their first year are much more likely to drop out of school or to transfer to a different one. Freshman seminars have been shown to increase retention rates, as they offer a "safer" haven in which freshmen can meet each other, hopefully leading to friendships and connections which will enhance the overall socialization and enjoyment of these new students. Her school limited these sections to 16 students; approximately 65% of the normal class size, for just this purpose. Second, the freshman seminar was intended to be writing-intensive, and had to include one or more presentations, to begin to develop both of these important skills for students, thus serving them well in future courses requiring clear presentation of one's thoughts, whether in writing or orally. Third, the freshman seminar proposal had to be cross-disciplinary, incorporating multiple traditional fields of academic study. Proposals too focused on just one discipline were summarily rejected. Fourth, the seminar had to include an experiential activity for all students. Professors received a small honorarium that had to be used towards this purpose (for example, defraying ticket costs for students to attend a specific event, if such event was designed as a part of the course.) At the time the professor taught her section, this fee was $125.

Younger faculty were encouraged to design and to offer a freshman seminar. Because these courses were outside of the traditional faculty discipline, they required a great deal more work for faculty to create and to manage. They were considered a "good thing to have on one's academic record" for tenure purposes, as it demonstrated flexibility, service to the university and students, willingness to "play nice in the sandbox," and a host of other desirable traits for new faculty to demonstrate. Most of these sections were actually offered by adjunct faculty, but each year a few brave junior faculty would put together a proposal and offer a new freshman seminar.

By design, these courses were intended to make students think, and to experience a class just a little different than other, more traditional courses they were taking. The instructor designed and offered a course called, "The Prudent Life." Per her proposal, the course was designed as a blend of personal finance, sociology, and a bit of economics.

This session is being designed to create dialogue around new and innovative approaches to make learning stick, especially with freshmen and younger student populations. The professor taught 17 students that term (they needed her to take on one extra, due to enrollments and availability), and because part of the course involved students keeping journals, she was able to read first-hand changes they were making in their thought patterns and actions. She will share the activities designed, what worked and why, and more, during this session.
@InProceedings{PSIHOUNTAS2018CHA,
author = {Psihountas, D.},
title = {CHANGING BEHAVIOR THROUGH A FRESHMAN SEMINAR COURSE EXPERIENCE},
series = {12th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2018 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-697-9480-7},
issn = {2340-1079},
doi = {10.21125/inted.2018.1846},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/inted.2018.1846},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {5-7 March, 2018},
year = {2018},
pages = {7746-7751}}
TY - CONF
AU - D. Psihountas
TI - CHANGING BEHAVIOR THROUGH A FRESHMAN SEMINAR COURSE EXPERIENCE
SN - 978-84-697-9480-7/2340-1079
DO - 10.21125/inted.2018.1846
PY - 2018
Y1 - 5-7 March, 2018
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 12th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2018 Proceedings
SP - 7746
EP - 7751
ER -
D. Psihountas (2018) CHANGING BEHAVIOR THROUGH A FRESHMAN SEMINAR COURSE EXPERIENCE, INTED2018 Proceedings, pp. 7746-7751.
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