First-Year Experience

Student Learning Fee Grant: Purchase of Personal Technology and Locking Storage Cart

THMA 116 houses U-Courses, sets of merged first-year course pairs that are team-taught.  The courses are project-based rather than lecture-based.  In-class work with technology is frequent: every team of 10-12 students is overseen by an embedded student mentor and has access to a shared touchscreen computer for group work.  Students work in class to gain and demonstrate mastery of course concepts through various means, including technology-enhanced demonstrations of knowledge (e.g., Venngage posters, Wikis, short films, short PowerPoint animations, etc.).  Students also complete complex, technology-mediated projects with a civic emphasis, such as making contributions to a "citizen scientist" website; forming interest group campaigns focused on issues of public concern; constructing plans for sustainable cities, etc. 

A survey of students in U-Courses, which include a population of students that is more than 50% first-generation, low-income, has revealed that 10% or more of students in any given U-Course do not have personal devices they can use effectively in the classroom to assist them with the individual components of coursework.  We are therefore proposing the creation of equitable access to technology in U-Courses through the inclusion of 20 personal devices that will remain in THMA 116 but be available for check-out to students during class periods so that all students can participate fully in class projects.

U-Courses have a capacity of 96-100 students per course pair.  Presently, there are four U-Courses offered each semester.   This number is likely to grow to six per semester in the coming Academic Year.  Because of a close partnership with the campus REACH program, which provides support to first-generation, low-income students, we have a large population of students in every U-Course who may be adversely affected by the "digital divide"--a gap between those who own or have easy access to technology and those who do not.  We thus feel an urgent need to provide students access to those tools that will help them to succeed and thrive in the U-Course setting.