First-year task force update

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The task force on the first-year experience is set to meet later this month to share and discuss current Laurier practices and other widely-recommended initiatives in order to evaluate and improve various aspects of the first-year experience.

The task force is a joint committee run by the VP: academics, Deborah MacLatchy, and the VP: student affairs, David McMurray, who are working alongside the task force committee to recommend a more comprehensive, updated approach to the first-year experience at Laurier.

“The idea is to cover both the academic and non-academic parts of the first-year experience because they are both so related…it is all in the same package of how a student ends up doing in their first year,” John Fraser, director: strategic academic initiatives, explained.

Within the task force, Fraser is supporting the aspect which is working to process and compile the information.

“The overall goal is to focus on academic integration and personal transition. We want to, in a comprehensive and cohesive way, deliver academic and co-curricular supports to students in their academic and personal transition…there’s a lot that goes into that,” said McMurray.

There are three sub-committees made up of 27 people within the task force. The committees are an internal research group, which looks at programs and policies within Laurier, an external research group, which looks at best practices from other sources and a Laurier program inventory, which looks at specific programs across academic and non-academic areas.

As a whole, the task force has been creating a report with their findings and recommendations.

“We brought the task force together to package, strategically, what we wanted to deliver by using research-based evidence to support what we want to do, invest in these programs and monitor the results,” McMurray said.

There are many sub-themes in the report that impact the two main goals of the task force, which are academic and non-academic success for first-year students.

So far, the task force has been on track with the timeline they set out for the report.

“The vision was to create a report sometime in this fall term in order to be able to have things out there in time to plan for 2014/15,” Fraser said.

“We are looking to speed up the process but there has been a lot of work putting the document together,” McMurray added.

“Ultimately, we want the committee to reach a consensus on what’s best for Laurier to continue, to start or even perhaps stop doing.”

This term, the committee will take the report to campus communities including students, faculties and alumni, to allow these groups to review it and provide feedback.

“We will then finalize our recommended consensus points to the senate of the university, which governs the academic timetable,” McMurray said.

“There will be more coming down the line,” Fraser concluded.


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