We originally developed the project to meet a strategic goal to increase first-year to second year retention. We applied the multiple dimensions of the “flourishing” model to address issues that create the conditions for which students leave—lack of connection to peers and/or faculty/staff, perceived lack of institutional “fit,” and psychosocial factors that negatively impact the ability of a student to focus on academic work, among others.
Our original intent focus was to encourage First Year Seminar faculty to attend to broader issues of student flourishing, as they have regular connections with first year students in the critical first semester as professors and academic advisors. We did in fact brief First Year Seminar faculty on the flourishing model during a pre-semester advising training session, but new opportunities had emerged at the College that allowed us to rethink our approach.
With significant leadership transitions at Dickinson College, we saw the opportunity to gain new points of leverage to advance work on wellbeing issues for first-year students. Collaborative opportunities across the divisions of Academic Affairs and Student Life emerged. An inter-divisional team developed a common vision with accompanying learning outcomes for a comprehensive First Year Experience (see appendix). While the existing First Year Seminar program continues to be the core curricular element of the FY Experience, we added several other programmatic dimensions, specifically the First Year Interest Group and a new Dean structure.
Primary Investigators: Shalom Staub, Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and Civic Engagement: firstname.lastname@example.org