1. Why did IPFW propose a First-Year Experience initiative?
IPFW, like most other higher education institutions today, wants to respond proactively to the profound changes taking place in student preparation for college-level work, attendance patterns, and success rates. A few highlights:
Many colleges and universities nationwide have established FYE programs, and many have seen improvements in student retention and success as a result.
2. Doesn’t IPFW already provide tutoring and other support for underprepared students?
Yes. However, the FYE initiative is for all first-time students, not just the underprepared. It coordinates coursework, academic advising, and co-curricular activities to connect students with IPFW faculty, staff, and other students. Hence the name, “Connections.”
3. How will these connections be accomplished?
The central academic delivery mechanism for FYE is the Freshman Community. Freshman Communities consist of regular university courses, such as general-education and other foundational courses for first-year students, paired to take advantage of overlapping content and augmented by activities that provide training in essential skills.
4. How do we know whether this will work?
Freshman Communities, also called Learning Communities, have been successful at many other colleges and universities. Positive results include IUPUI, Temple University, University of Texas San Antonio, LaGuardia Community College and more. (See links under Related Resources.) In addition, the first year of LC's at IPFW yielded positive results: low withdrawal rates, better attendance rates than non-LC courses, higher GPAs in LC classes than outside for LC students, higher rates of enrollment (+4.04%) in spring 2005 for LC than non-LC students.
5. Who will teach the IPFW Freshman Communities?
In fall 2004, we launched 15 learning communities, linking courses from a variety of disciplines and schools. The learning communities were selected from proposals developed by teams of faculty. All subsequent communities will be selected similarly. Faculty will receive a $500 stipend as token compensation for their time and effort.