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Fall 2003 marks premiere of Freshman Experience course

August 13, 2003

Teens often act as though they have all the answers. But brush aside the bored expression and pseudo sophistication of a new college freshman and you'll find a backpack of insecurities and a locker-full of questions, from "How much of what the professor says should I write down?" to "What's the meaning of life?"
August 13, 2003

Teens often act as though they have all the answers. But brush aside the bored expression and pseudo sophistication of a new college freshman and you'll find a backpack of insecurities and a locker-full of questions, from "How much of what the professor says should I write down?" to "What's the meaning of life?"

Attempting to answer those questions, and the ones that lie between, is the purpose of Austin Peay's newly developed Freshman Experience course, offered for the first time this fall. Administrators and faculty who developed the course call it LART 1000, curriculum-speak for Liberal Arts and University Life.

Put simply, "This course is designed to give students the information they need to succeed in college," says DeAnne Luck, associate professor of electronic services, Woodward Library, and a member of the committee that spearheaded development of the course.

"It will give them life skills, like how to handle their finances, maintain healthy sleep habits and manage their time; and academic skills, like note-taking, test-taking and writing a paper. And it will guide them in choosing a major and planning a career."

In addition to helping students be successful academically, course developers hope it will help them socially. "A major goal of the program is to promote a sense of community among students," says Luck. "In this class, they'll have the chance to interact closely with a group of their peers."

Twelve sections of LART 1000 will be offered this fall, with more to come if research indicates it helps prevent student dropout. The classes will be team-taught, with two instructors per class. One member of the team will be a librarian.

"We've always wanted to offer information about the library in this type of venue," Luck says of her fellow librarians. "Faculty sometimes overestimate students' level of knowledge about use of the library."

They may, for example, tell students to write a paper using scholarly journals. "But students don't know what a scholarly journal is; they may not even know what a journal is." A module titled Introduction to Library Research will help close that gap and arm students with the strategies to unearth the information they need from the library's resources.

The course also will convey information about other campus resources, such as career services and the writing center, Luck says.

Assessment of the course's effectiveness will be critical, Luck says. "We'll see if retention improves. We'll also survey students to see if they found it helpful." That research, she says, will begin next fall.