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Challenging and Supporting First-Year Students

  • When our courses demand that first-year students move beyond memory—as they should—we need to provide structured activities to support them in uncharted territory.

    • Provide feedback early and often

    • Pose complex, real-life problems, questions, and facilitate discussions they can relate to

    • Be explicit and clarify the expectations and strategies of learning, engagement, and assessment
      • Address expectations at the beginning
      • Model the thinking you expect them to demonstrate
      • Give students a "Things you should know from high school" quiz to assess their background knowledge
    • Prepare for emotional reactions
    • Teach to a variety of learning styles 
    • Minimize the need to memorize by setting instructional goals that target the development of core concepts and competencies such as:
      • critical thinking
      • problem-solving
      • knowledge application
      • creativity
      • communication and collaboration
      • leadership
      • global and cross-cultural awareness
      • intrapersonal skills (e.g., self-direction, motivation, and learning how to learn)
  • Resource and further information: Vanderbilt