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K-State Today

February 20, 2015

K-State First faculty present at the 34th annual conference on The First-Year Experience

Submitted by Mariya Vaughan

Several members of the K-State First team, as well as various K-State administrators and faculty, traveled to the 34th annual conference on The First-Year Experience in Dallas, Texas, to present to and learn from leaders in the field of first-year experience programs.

Each year, this conference provides opportunities for educators and administrators in higher education to plan, implement and refine programs, such as K-State First, that are designed to enhance students' first-year experience. While there, attendees are part of an engaging community that explores a diverse range of ideas and various resources. Those traveling from Kansas State University learned new and exciting ways to make the first-year at K-State one of the best in the nation.

The attendees from K-State included Steven Dandaneau, Gregory Eiselein, Kylie Kinley, Mariya Vaughan, Emily Lehning, Kiley Moody, Stephanie Bannister, Tara Coleman, Daniel Ireton, Donald Saucier, Lisa Rubin from the Manhattan campus, and Alysia Starkey, Kate Brockway, Danielle Brown, Darryl Glenn and Kate Otto from K-State Salina.

Everyone had the chance to participate in a wide range of sessions based around first-year programs. These sessions and workshops focused on best practices for living-learning communities, mentorship programs, first-year experience courses, common reading programs, and a diverse range of ideas on how to implement and expand them.

Eiselein and Saucier's presentation, "Experiences of Academic Engagement and Classroom Community in Learning Communities" offered data about the ways in which CAT (Connecting Across Topics) learning communities foster student engagement and students' sense of community.

Saucier, associate professor of psychological sciences at K-State, said, "The First-Year Experience Conference was inspirational. I had the privilege of discussing how to engage students and make our classes into communities. I attended sessions and shared ideas with scholars and administrators across the country about how to theoretically and practically optimize the experience of first-year students. What I learned at the conference can be used to make the educational experience of our students at K-State — which is already excellent — even better."

K-State faculty presented two other sessions: Rubin's "Six-Word Memoirs: A Content Analysis of First-Year Course Learning Outcomes," and Daniel Ireton's "Creating Communities Through Collaborative Play: The KSU Alternate Reality Game."

Tara Coleman, associate professor and Web services librarian, had the opportunity to share and discuss her work on the K-State Book Network, or KSBN, our common reading program.

She said, "The conference was wonderful and I loved talking to people about KSBN. I get a lot of questions on how we do things and am always happy to share. The best part of the conference is being able to network with others and get new ideas on ways to engage students."

The conference was sponsored by the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition and the University of South Carolina, and co-hosted by Tarrant County College, University of Texas, El Paso, and York University.