Changes in sight

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The first-year experience task force produced and circulated a draft report of its activities, mandate and goals to several student communities earlier this semester to collect feedback from students and faculty. According to co-chairs David McMurray and Deborah MacLatchy, the feedback was positive.

“It’s a real, holistic, in and out of the classroom view,” said McMurray.

The task force began in Dec. 2012 and its goal is to assess the first-year experience of students at Wilfrid Laurier University and how that experience can be improved, both in and out of the classroom. According to the draft report it brought to senate on Jan. 13, the task force’s focus is on what they consider to be the four pillars of student success: academic achievement, accepting responsibility, community engagement and health and well-being.

“It looks at the first-year student as a whole person; it’s not just their time in class that’s important,” said MacLatchy.

The task force will assess co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, as well as time in the classroom to ensure that all aspects of the first-year experience are positive ones.  The draft report stating these goals was sent to the faculty divisional councils, library council, multi-campus senior student affairs teams, academic advisors’ group and the Students’ Union, who agreed with its principles.

“The next steps are what’s key from this point on. How do we make the consensus points achievable? How do we all contribute to make sure we can accomplish the goals set out in the report?” said MacLatchy.

The draft report suggested reformulating the inactive senate student life committee as the senate committee on student learning.  This revised committee would be responsible for implementing the recommendations set out by the first-year experience task force.

It also outlines 14 consensus points detailing how the four pillars of student success can be achieved.  This includes teaching students how to time manage, creating an environment of personal and academic integrity and supporting them in investigating career development opportunities.

“We have been very strategic about moving some key areas forward.  We need to take a look at the strategies used by other universities and see if they are appropriate for Laurier,” said MacLatchy.

“Our thoughts now are geared toward the final product that we will be giving to senate,” said McMurray.

The final report will go to senate on Apr. 15.

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