Improving a First Year Experience (FYE) Course in Communication

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Daniel Ahadi, School of Communication

Project team: Dugan Nichols and Jennesia Pedri, research assistants

Timeframe: November 2016 to August 2017

Funding: $6,000

Course addressed: CMNS 110 – Introduction to Communication Studies

Final report: View Daniel Ahadi's final report short version (PDF) and long version (PDF), Appendix A (PDF) and Appendix B (PDF).

Description: CMNS 110, our introductory core course in Communication is to be offered as a First Year Experience (FYE) course each Fall. Typically the Fall offering of the course has an enrolment of 300-400 students. Expectations for performance and their measurements can be daunting for the students (especially high school transfers) and the teaching team. To help address this difficulty, we (the teaching team), in partnership with half a dozen service units on campus, offered a series of coping, learning, and writing workshops for first-year students during the Fall 2016. These workshops were facilitated by the Library, Student Learning Commons, Healthy Campus, and Student Services. In addition, the teaching team has also offered to the students a series of sessions on drafting paper proposals and exam preparation.

Topics related to supporting student transition to the university environment necessarily face competition from the disciplinary topics and activities typically covered in CMNS 110 for time and space in the course. I am interested in examining the course as a whole to determine to what extent its current design is meeting the learning goals outlined in the course syllabus and the role of the FYE topics and activities in students’ learning. In particular, to what extent do the FYE topics support students’ learning and which (if any) should be removed from the course?  Do FYE and non-FYE students have different learning experiences overall and opinions regarding the FYE sessions in particular?

Questions addressed:

  • Which elements of the course pertaining to the FYE curriculum should be kept and which of them should be revised, and/or eliminated?
  • What has been the impact on student learning?

Knowledge sharing: The final report will be presented to the ISTLD, the School of Communication’s Undergraduate Studies Committee and faculty members, and the FCAT Dean.

Ahadi, D., Nichols, D., & Pedri, J. (2017, June). Implementing a First Year Experience (FYE) Curriculum a Large Communication Course. Presentation at the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Conference, June 19-23, 2017, Halifax, NS.

Ahadi, D., Pedri, J., & Nichols, D. (2017, May). Implementing a First Year Experience (FYE) Curriculum a Large Communication Course. Presentation at the Society for the Study of Higher Education Conference, May 27-31, Toronto, ON.

Keywords: First year experience; FYE; introductory course; post-pre survey; keep-change-delete survey; co-curricular activities; Student Learning Commons; Health and Counseling Services