The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Changes planned for FYE lab

FYE (First-Year Experience) is an integral part of freshman year at Guilford. This year the program changed drastically-and the new incarnation was met by massive dissent from freshman. In response to student opposition to the new FYE lab structure, a committee of faculty, staff, and students was created that has drafted some new ideas for next year’s class.

The FYE program has been in place for decades and it is designed to help ease the freshmen classes’ transition into their new collegiate environment.

Until this year the program was divided between Chaos Continues (a one credit pass or fail course that required students to attend certain events) and the FYE class (an academic course which for one day a week would take time out from the course content to focus on things like note taking skills or the Quaker Testimonies.)

“The old system tended to cause confusion because there were four days a week of course material and then one day of time management,” said Coordinator of First Year Experience Clay Harshaw. “The FYE labs were designed to meet our obligations to help the students with adjustment which were determined years ago.”

The labs were designed by faculty as graded, one day a week classes that would cover all the orientation and skill-building lessons that the academic courses originally had to cover. The labs were completely independent of the academic FYE courses and they even had their own textbook, Keys to Success.

“Like most of the FYE teachers, I was relieved not to have to spend time in my course on things like the Quaker Testimonies and Time-Management,” said Visiting Assistant Professor of English and long-time FYE professor Carol Hoppe. “The labs gave me more time to spend on my actual course content.”

However, when the labs started up in the beginning of the year, student reactions were less positive. Discontent sprang up almost immediately and by the third week of school, the labs were already under heavy fire, the textbook becoming a focal point for student venom.

“Student outcry was pretty immediate. As soon as people saw the book the discontent grew from there,” said freshman Phil Kennedy, a student in Hoppe’s class and one of the drafters of a letter to the administration about the labs. “People felt as though the things we learned about in lab didn’t apply to them. When we signed up for classes over the summer, no one knew what it was about. I assumed it would be an extension of

my actual FYE class.”

Members of the freshman class expressed their displeasure in a number of ways. A petition was passed around gaining many signatures, students argued with their lab professors in class, and made a plan to burn the Keys to Success textbooks in a bonfire in the woods. The school recognized the student concerns and held a forum on Sept. 20 to give the students an opportunity to provide constructive criticism.

“The biggest student concerns were that one size doesn’t fit all and that their experience wasn’t reflected in the overall content of the course,” said Associate Academic Dean Steve Shapiro who participated in the forum. “They were also concerned about the cost of the book; they didn’t think it was meeting their needs and so the price was hard to swallow. They gave me a petition, but I said a petition wasn’t the right way to go about this. The course is going to be here this semester. But it can be changed for next year’s FYE class.”

After the first forum, a sub-committee formed and met regularly. Another forum was held on the first of November to discuss three proposals. The idea that generated the most interest is a plan to match up each FYE lab with an FYE academic class until fall break. The labs would thus be smaller and the course content would theoretically synch up with what is being taught in the FYE class.

After fall break, students would choose which labs they wanted to participate in, though they would be required to go to a certain number of them. Some labs would be mandatory, but overall the students could choose for themselves. In place of the text, the proposal suggests the possibility of a Guilford-specific ‘course pack.’

“Potentially a student could be finished with their lab requirements before the end of the term,” said Harshaw. “One of the major advantages is that students still get the essential information the first half of the semester and in the second half they get more choice. I think a lot of the students were unhappy because so little choice was involved.”

These proposals are only in the planning stages. Nothing is certain at this point and the details still need to be worked out. The sub-committee is interested in student input and is holding another forum after winter break to discuss the proposed changes and hear what current students have to say, particularly freshmen who just finished their labs.

“The problems we’ve had this year are what comes naturally to something new,” said Shapiro. “We’re always trying to do better and we need student help with that.

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