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FIGs, Freshmen, Students, interest, groups


SUMMARY Over the past six years the Freshman Interest Group (FIG) has attracted a number of participants who find sufficient intrinsic value in the program to invest considerable time and talent in sustaining and improving the program. At the same time, many faculty have voiced concerns over the content of some offerings and the general lack of faculty oversight in its development. Initially FIGs was established to address a perceived imbalance of resources between the upper and lower division program that had a negative effect on the experience and engagement of entering students. On several other campuses FIGs was heralded as a significant influence on student academic performance and retention FIGs was also initially distinguished from other first year programs by its promise to provide integration among the courses taken in the first quarter. We have not found persuasive evidence that the program has the impact on achievement, retention, and social bonds that was initially envisioned. The strongest evidence for the positive impact of the program comes from testimony of many participants, faculty, staff, and students, who find that the program uniquely adds value to their experiences. While recognizing these values, we are concerned with the program's costs. Budgetary costs are modest, but the program is sustained by the overload burdens taken on by the participants. While such burdens might make sense in an experimental program, a sustainable program requires commitment of real resources. The central issue we have uncovered is a nagging concern with the unevenness of the academic content and evaluation procedures in the FIG seminars. This concern seems to be the central problem with the current program. We suggest that much of this issue could be overcome by instituting an established review committee, parallel to the oversight committees that routinely review new course offerings by established faculty. We also conclude that the ACC should in the future support FIGs with both resources and direction.




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Subjects - Topical (LCSH)

College freshmen--Washington (State)--Bellingham--Statistics; College freshmen--Washington (State)--Bellingham--Attitudes






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