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Breaking down silos to build up student success: Library, faculty, and student support partnerships in credit-bearing classes

2020-10-01 , Stone, Cara , Rees, Pamela , Carson, Elizabeth , Stone, Cara , Reference and Instruction , University Library

First-year seminars are courses that use regular meeting times with first-year students to promote community development and deepen student learning through small class sizes and increased student engagement. "The highest-quality first-year experiences place a strong emphasis on critical inquiry, frequent writing, information literacy, collaborative learning, and other skills that develop students' intellectual and practical competencies" (Kuh 2008). In addition to academic outcomes, many firstyear experience programs orient students to what it means to be a successful college student by acquainting them with resources and offices on campus and helping them further to develop "time management, study skills, career planning, [and awareness of and appreciation for] cultural diversity" (Barefoot and Fidler 1992). There are several approaches to first-year seminar structures, and Barefoot and Fidler describe five categories of the most common first-year seminar types (1992). Grand View University's Core Seminar I has developed into a hybrid of three of the types described: "extended orientation seminars," "academic seminars with generally uniform academic content across sections," and "academic seminars on various topics" (1992). Core Seminar I is a threecredit course in which students meet either two or three times per week, depending on scheduling, for an entire semester. Grand View University's Core Seminar I course was developed to address university concerns regarding student engagement, retention, and progression and designed to integrate critical inquiry, writing, and information literacy, aligning closely with the above-mentioned recommended areas of emphasis from Kuh and the Association of American Colleges and Universities (2008). All sections include common writing, research, academic planning, and financial literacy assignments. Typically taken within a first-year student's fall semester, each section of Core Seminar I serves between twenty and twenty-five students and is a requirement for all incoming traditional first-year students. Though it varies depending on university enrollment, generally there are between sixteen and eighteen sections in the fall and two to three in the spring. Each section has a separate theme, and students are able to select a theme that aligns with their curiosity, interests, or general discipline of study. The Grand View University Library performs an essential role in supporting student learning as part of student success programs that begin at admission and extend through graduation. Each librarian is responsible for four to seven sections in the fall, with the percentage of time individual librarians devote to Core Seminar I varying depending on the time of year and type of position. In the fall, core seminar commitments take up between 60 and 80 percent of each librarian's position and are divided between Core Seminar I and Core Seminar II, discussed later in this chapter.