Student Life and Leadership

Connection Courses

A three year aggregate of surveys sent to new students at approximately 8 weeks into the semester of their first year reveals that although 1 in 5 students report their academic transition as "difficult" to "very difficult", 1 in 4 report their social transition to be "difficult" to "very difficult". This is consistent with other research on college transition and persistence and inspired us to consider how we, in Student Affairs, might partner with Academic Affairs, or more specifically FYE, to address the whole student.  This partnership led FYE to suggest we would imbed trained peer leaders into select first year GE Pathway courses to expand not only on the Pathways topic, but to inject an experiential social component for the class participants as well as strengthen the Pathway identity.

Camp Wildcat is the name of that program.  The goal of Camp Wildcat is to create a unique experience that features a retreat experience and peer-led, out-of-class meet-ups as part of the course requirement.  Peer leaders with an interest in certain GE Pathway areas, or “Camps” are hired to work with a faculty member who teaches a class in that “Camp”.  Peer leaders plan, organize and lead the out-of-class meet-ups for the course. “Camps” for the coming fall include: 

  • Camp Healthy Cat (Health and Wellness imbedded in RECR 180 and KINE 110)
  • Camp Green Cat (Sustainability imbedded in UNIV 105)
  • Camp Equity Cat (Gender and Sexuality Studies imbedded in WMST 170 or MCGS 155)

These out-of-class experiences should enhance the in-class content, but also go further to create hands-on opportunities for students to explore the Pathway topic and possible majors and careers related to the Pathway. 

The role of the faculty member in Camp Wildcat, is to work with FYE to design a course that would have a "retreat" component the first Saturday of the semester, as well as require some participation in 4 of the eight outside of class, peer led "meet ups" throughout the semester.  The faculty member and peer leader would work to identify meaningful, hands-on, fun activities designed to connect students more deeply to the Pathway topic, as well as to each other.  The faculty member would also be asked to incorporate the participation in the meet ups as part of the course syllabus, and promote the activity opportunities via Blackboard Learn and/or in class.  Faculty members may choose to attend any or all of the activities if they wish, and they will be asked to debrief the activity in class after it concludes.

The role of the peer leader is to work with the faculty member to develop the meet-ups, make arrangements as needed for the meet-ups, communicate and promote the meet-ups to the class members, facilitate the meet-ups, collect sign-in sheets and any waivers or other paperwork required for the meet-up, and debrief the meet-ups using the student learning objectives of the Camp Wildcat program as a guide.  The peer leader will also be responsible for communicating with the faculty member both before (confirming the meet up plan) and after (reporting attendance, debrief notes, and suggested improvements) in order to allow the faculty member to better connect the out-of-class experiences to the curriculum.

At the conclusion of the course, we would like to collect data on the experience of the class participants, and would ask for access via the instructor to collect that data.