First-Year Experience
Georgia Southern University

History of the First-Year Seminar

SACSCOC Quality Enhancement Plan

As part of the University’s reaffirmation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC) in 2005, Georgia Southern University submitted a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). Three of the five objectives of the QEP focus on the first year:

  1. Freshmen will apply behaviors that demonstrate their responsibilities as engaged learners.
  2. Freshmen will practice behaviors that lead to lifelong learning.
  3. Freshmen will evaluate their responsibilities as engaged members in diverse communities.

Foundations of Excellence

In order to better position the University to achieve these objectives, Georgia Southern participated in the Foundations of Excellence project in 2005-2006 to assess strengths and weaknesses of the first year as experienced by students and to make recommendations for improvement. Nearly 60 faculty, staff and students participated, as members of one of nine Dimension Review Teams that examined a specific aspect of the first year. In addition, the University participated in a first-year student survey and a faculty/staff survey; nearly eighty percent of each sample completed the survey. This process yielded many findings, three of which significantly shaped the work of future endeavors:

  1. Compared with other institutions who participated in the Foundations of Excellence project, Georgia Southern scored fairly well when it came to affective measures of student engagement, but underperformed in areas of academic engagement.
  2. On the whole, faculty envisioned the First-Year Experience as a Student Affairs unit rather than an Academic Affairs one. Because of this, efforts to improve FYE were not seen as an Academic Affairs responsibility.
  3. Students did not, in large numbers, report that Georgia Southern accurately communicated academic expectations prior to enrollment. Only 49 percent indicated that the University did so to a “very high” or “high” degree.

FYE Faculty Task Force

Because of these findings, Provost Linda Bleicken formed a Faculty Task Force in August 2006 comprised of at least one representative from each college that teaches undergraduates (COST and CLASS had two representatives) and a high school English teacher from the Bulloch County schools. She charged the group with developing challenge/support initiatives, particularly academic in nature, to strengthen the First-Year Experience on campus. Specifically, the Task Force was to examine students’ experiences before enrollment, during the GSU1210 course administered during the first semester, and beyond the first semester.

The Task Force presented its report on December 15, 2006. During Spring 2007, the report was vetted by the Dean’s Council and President’s Cabinet, and reported to Faculty Senate. The full report was made available to the campus community through the FYE website. Among the curricular suggestions was a complete revision of the GSU1210 course into a two-credit hour, thematic seminar. For the original position paper describing the rationale of the Task Force, click here *DOC***.

Pilot Sections, Revisions, and Curriculum Committee Approval

During Fall 2007, FYE piloted thirteen sections of the new seminar and conducted a pre-post test with a control group of GSU1210 classes. In November 2007, the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee approved a change effective Fall 2008 to replace GSU1210 with FYE 1220, a two-hour seminar that the Faculty Task Force proposed. Subsequently, based on feedback from pilot faculty, the extended orientation component was reduced from 15 contact hours to eight. The compensation options were expanded to include a direct compensation provision for faculty.

In January 2008, FYE launched a “Teaching FYE 1220” website and began accepting expressions of interest from faculty wishing to teach the course. Beginning in Fall 2008, all students except those who transfer to the University with 30 hours of credit from another institution were required to take the course.

Last updated: 11/9/2015

First-Year Experience • P.O. Box 8145 Statesboro, GA 30460 • (912) 478-3939 • fye@georgiasouthern.edu