The following is part of the Middlebury College panel: “Keeping the Fires Burning:
Ongoing Innovation in a Nineteen-Year-Old Program presented at the “First-Year Programs and Liberal Arts: Best Practices and New Thinking” June 2007 at St. Lawrence University.
In order to help faculty achieve their First-Year Seminar goals, Middlebury offers each instructor a support team composed of two professional staff members and two student peers. Instructors may choose the whole team, parts of the team, or no team if they wish.
Two components of the team, a research librarian and peer writing tutor, are well-known support components of many first-year programs. In addition, Middlebury has added two other members to our team, an Educational Technologist and an ACE or Academic Consultant for Excellence. All team members are attached directly to a specific FYS, and I’ll briefly give you an overview of the contributions of these four team members.
The first member of the team is a Reference Librarian.
Middlebury no longer gives students a stand-alone orientation to its libraries, so the FYSE is the place where students really learn to use the libraries and their resources. Having a librarian attached to a specific seminar means that the librarian can plan instruction and resources tailored to the demands of the particular class. What the librarian does with each class depends on the goals we have outlined for all FYSEs as well as the goals of the individual FYSE instructor. The librarian can prepare a site that gathers research tools for a particular class and can vary instruction from basic assignments, to assignments a bit more complicated to assignments that are quite complex.
The next professional member of the team, the Educational Technologist, also, offers an array of service–from no instruction-to-instruction in quite complex technologies. Again, Middlebury does not give its students a stand-alone tech orientation, so we recommend to faculty that they, at least, have the Educational Technologist do an orientation to our servers. All FYSEs have an e-mail list that even the most low-tech faculty use for class updates and for sending attachments. Some faculty chooses to have their own course web sites, and in addition, Middlebury has its own course management tool, SEGUE. Many faculty uses SEGUE–even if it is just a place to house a syllabus on line. Others take advantage of Segue’s Web 2 characteristics. So SEGUE can prove useful to instructors with very little technical knowledge as well as those with cutting-edge expertise.
Every page in SEGUE can be discussable. And many instructors use SEGUE for robust on-line class discussions. Finally. The Educational Technologist supports high end use, and can instruct the class in digital media projects. The Summer Workshop series provide faculty with great ideas for using technology. In order to help faculty realize their individual seminar goals, the workshops feature faculty exploring specific technologies and discussing their pedagogical reasons for choosing them.
The Educational Technologist and the Librarian are the professional members of our team, but we are very proud of the two students members in the team. The newest member of the team is our Academic Consultant for Excellence, or ACE. ACEs have GPAs of 3.7 and above, and they work with students on TM, stress reduction, and are excellent student role models.
Peer Writing Tutors are trained to help students with every phase of the writing process and can also assist faculty with in-class workshops. Both ACEs and PWTs complete over ten hours of training.
The support team has been an innovation that has helped faculty teach challenging and fascinating courses that guide, support and instruct students in their first semester at college.