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First Year Intensives (FYI)

students raising hands

Clark’s first year experience may be quite different from that offered by other schools.

The transition to college requires an adjustment of academic routines. Students must adjust to new experiences including how to manage their times effectively and their new responsibilities as college students. In the process, a new identify develops as a result of exposure to new experiences, facts, and resources. Many during this stage struggle with specific identity questions based on gender, sexual orientation, race, cultural background or disability. Students also experience changes in interests, freedom from family pressures, and other factors that contribute to uncertainty about and changes in career choice.

Clarkie’s Task Force on Undergraduate Education adopted a developmental model consisting of three phases:

  1. the transition phase;
  2. the growth and exploration phase; and
  3. the synthesis and demonstration phase.

First Year Intensive learning experiences target the first phase, but seek to lay the groundwork for the subsequent phases of educational development. These experiences serve as a model for other experiences in the other phases, and should be viewed as setting the stage for the continuum of impactful learning at Clark.

During the transition phase:First Year Intensives (FYI) can be one of three types:

  • Topic-focused
  • Introductory
  • Research-oriented

For a detailed explanation of each phase, please refer to the Undergraduate Academic Board (UAB) definitions of FYIS.

The FYIs were first implemented in 2010, and continue to be refined based on students and faculty feedback, as well as the formal assessments that we have conducted.
We have compiled our findings in the form of a PowerPoint module that covers:

  1. why FYIs and their connections to LEEP (much of this already known to you);
  2. what works and doesn’t, according to faculty;
  3. academic advising overview.

The slides were designed to be a stand-alone FYI training module, so you will see that they contain tons of information. Many of them link to other helpful resources on campus and at other universities.

Download PPT

As you prepare to teach your FYI, you will undoubtedly have many questions. Please review the material listed below. If you still have questions or concerns, I will be happy to meet with you.

We will also be offering a number of workshops and communication means to help you with your pre-major and FYI advising. You will receive all relevant information through email from Matt Malsky and Kevin McKenna.

We will gather new and experienced FYI faculty periodically during the semester, and I plan bi-weekly emails. We also will have a list serve so that you can query your peers and benefit from the wisdom of the crowd.

We are now in the fourth year of our FYI program, and have worked most of the kinks out. Of course, there is still room for improvement in both the model and our communication. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Michael Bamberg,
Associate Dean, CETL Director

Helpful Resources

General circumstances in which faculty would contact the Dean of Students Office

  • Significant negative changes in class performance
  • Obvious signs of personal distress from a student
  • Prolonged absences from classes
  • Disruptive or inappropriate behavior in class or inappropriate or disturbing class submissions

General circumstances in which the Dean of Students Office would contact faculty

  • Knowledge of reasons for student absences
  • When a student is having difficulties that interfere with his/her ability to get work done
  • When a student takes a leave of absence or withdraws
  • When an advisee hasn’t course selected

Specific Scenarios

A student or students are agitating in class about wishing to transfer to another school:

  • Alert the Dean of Students and suggest that the student talk with someone in that office.
  • Most students who talk about transferring don’t actually go, but this can be contagious if it’s not discussed early on. Students get the sense that “everyone is transferring” and it makes them wonder what they’re doing staying here.

Signs of drug or alcohol abuse:

A student or students find the class a repeat of material they’ve covered in high school or in another setting (class not advanced enough):

  • Talk to the student(s) about ways to challenge themselves, i.e. take on additional projects. If there is a more advanced class in the same area in the department, consider talking with the department chair about moving the student up.
  • Connect the student to Academic Advising and/or their Faculty Advisor.

A class is beyond the capacity of a student:

  • If moving down a level is possible, help the student to do this.
  • Explore the idea of tutors.
  • Send the student to the Dean of Students Office to discuss the possibility/ramifications of dropping the course.
  • Connect the student to Academic Advising and/or their Faculty Advisor.

The student is not getting proper advising for the discipline (this sometimes happens with double majors with primary advisors in another department):

  • Encourage the student to see out an advisor in each department and to take advantage of that person’s expertise.
  • Connect the student to Academic Advising and/or their Faculty Advisor.

A student shows intimidating or bullying behavior towards another student (or a professor):

  • Contact the Dean of Students to consult about strategies.
  • This can include a conversation with the Dean of Students and the student, judicial action, faculty removing the student from the class, etc.

Many of you are planning to take your FYI students off campus during the semester ahead. As in the past, the Dean of the College office can support these trips, assuming careful planning and consideration of our resource constraints. Academic Affairs will be leasing two 12-passenger vans from September 1st — November 26th which should accommodate nearly all trips. The vans won’t work in every circumstance, so we have investigated other options. Here’s how to proceed:

  1. In order to determine the best option for your trip, review the Transportation Options and Procedures document (attached). The matrix on page 1 should be particularly helpful.
  2. If you determine you can use one of the leased vans, consult the Van Guidelines (attached). Please read guidelines carefully as there are changes from last year, and planning ahead will be necessary. The vans can be reserved online through Clark’s Event Management System (EMS). When you receive your van reservation confirmation you will be asked to provide the driver’s name, phone number, and confirmation that the driver license check and the driver training are both completed. You do not need to know who the driver is when you reserve the van, but a confirmed certified driver will need to be stated two days prior to your trip. It’s all explained in the Guidelines.
  3. If the Academic Affairs vans are scheduled during the time that you need them, a few additional vans may be available from the Athletics Department and/or the Outing Club. Details and contact information are in the Transportation Options and Procedures document.
  4. If you are not able to use the leased vans and/or anticipate other travel costs, procedures for requesting funds from the DOC have changed. Rather than sending an email to the dean we ask that you complete the Course Support Funding Request (attached)and send it to Kim Fisher.
  5. Note that while FYI courses are given priority, that this email will be sent to all faculty shortly.

Of the many goals we have for the FYI courses, an important one is to help students transition to their new community. One way to do this is to share an academically-oriented activity outside of the classroom, or to augment in-class time with a speaker or a meal. As in the past, the Dean of the College (DOC) office has a modest budget to support such course related needs. These funds may be used, for example, to pay for museum entrance or conference, offer an honorarium to a guest lecturer, buy donuts or pizza for a mid-semester advising meeting, support a PLA, or pay for transportation when the leased vans don’t work for you.

Procedures for requesting funds from the DOC have changed. Rather than sending an email, we ask that you complete the Course Support Funding Request and send it to Kim Fisher. Requests will be processed on a rolling basis, and we will make every effort to allocate funds fairly across all FYIs and students. Don’t hesitate to also use departments funds as they are available.

Information Literacy Module for FYIs
from Tony Penny, Research Librarian, Goddard Library

Contact Information

Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning

  • Jonas Clark, 316
    950 Main Street
    Worcester, MA 01610
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