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National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition

Preconference Workshops

Enhance your time at the upcoming Annual Conference on The First-Year Experience by attending one or more of our learning workshops.

These workshops offer extended presentation, discussion and interaction on a particular topic or area of interest. 

All workshops will occur as a three-part series and be held simultaneously. You may register for multiple workshops but you will only be able to attend one in real-time. All registered workshop participants will have access to the recordings of the workshops they registered for after the conclusion of the conference.

Part 1: Monday, February 15, 2021 from 10:30 am - 11:45 am EST

Part 2: Tuesday, February 16, 2021 from 12:30 pm - 1:45 pm EST

Part 3: Friday, February 19, 2021 from 12:30 pm - 1:45 pm EST

Registration Fee: $40

  • Dustin Roberts, Assistant Director, First Year Experience, College of Charleston
  • Sandy Greene, Assistant Director  for Communications,  University 101 Programs, University of South Carolina
  • Katie Hopkins, Assistant Director for Faculty Development, University 101 Programs, University of South Carolina

Creating an inclusive classroom community that promotes sense of belonging has the power to positively impact student learning, success, and persistence to the second year and beyond. This is particularly important in an online environment. Community building should not be an after-thought. It should be integrated intentionally into the course from the first day to the last. In this interactive workshop, presenters will share and demonstrate strategies that can be used to effectively build community in an online environment through activities, assignments, and other small, intentional efforts.

Registration Fee: $40

  • Brad Garner, Director of Faculty Enrichment, Center for Learning and Innovation, Indiana Wesleyan University; Editor, The Toolbox, National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition - University of South Carolina

A critically important variable in the success of a first-year seminar is the level at which faculty are prepared to create an engaging/interactive learning environment. This is a unique skill set that must be developed and practiced. As faculty move along on this journey, it is critically important to equip them with strategies and techniques that promote interaction, reflection, and engagement. This session is designed to provide hands-on experience and a collection of tools that can be easily transported into the first-year seminar. Participants will receive an electronic resource document with directions for implementing all of the presented strategies.

Registration Fee: $40

  • Jennifer Coplea, CNAS Scholars Coordinator, University of California, Riverside

Generation Z are tech savvy, peer influenced, and tackling mental health and social justice.  Higher education must now meet the needs of the largest, most diverse, entrepreneurial generation (Twenge, 2017; Seemiller & Grace, 2016). They seek the understanding of the hidden curriculum, value face to face time, and success techniques in a competitive working environment. Students who feel a connection to an institution “are more likely to persist” and develop “a willingness to become involved with others in ways that further promote persistence” (Tinto, 2016). Peer support is a unique way to engage, retain, and graduate Gen Z. 

Registration Fee: $40

  • Christine HarringtonAssociate Professor, New Jersey City University
  • Melissa Thomas, Partner Success Specialist, University of Texas

Perhaps one of the most important student success factors is motivation, yet faculty members often struggle with how to best motivate students and ultimately influence student learning.  Theory and research on student motivation will come alive in this interactive workshop. Using Wlodkowski and Ginsberg’s (1995) Motivational Framework for Culturally Responsive Teaching as a backdrop, we’ll explore practical ways to put theory and research into immediate practice in your college classroom and institution.  Come learn what works and how to positively influence student learning!

 Registration Fee: $40


  • John N. Gardner, President, John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education; Senior Fellow, National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, University of South Carolina
  • Betsy O. Barefoot, Senior Scholar, John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education; Fellow, National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition - University of South Carolina

For more than three decades, a significant investment has been made by many colleges and universities to improve the first year. But funds spent have often not yielded expected returns in student learning and retention. In this workshop, the presenters will explore the questions, "What works in first-year programs and why... or why not?" They will draw from recent research findings and provide a variety of examples of best practice. Participants will be challenged to reflect on the first year at their own campuses-what initiatives have made a positive difference in the first year and what challenges remain? 

 Registration Fee: $40
  • Amy Baldwin, Director, University College, University of Central Arkansas
  • Bryce BuntingAssistant Clinical Professor, Brigham Young University

Research and public conversation about belonging, growth mindset, and resilience have proliferated in the last few years, but many student success professionals are uncertain how best to incorporate these concepts into their courses and programs. Participants in this workshop will receive an up-to-date briefing on the latest theory and practice about learning mindsets and their impact on student outcomes. Then, participants will engage in interactive activities to learn how to design curricular and co-curricular strategies in their student success course and FYE program that can enhance learning mindsets that lead to a measurable impact on student success.

Registration Fee: $40

  • Michele Campagna, Assistant Dean of Learning Initiatives and Success Department/Division, Westchester Community College
  • Joe Cuseo, Professor Emeritus, Psychology, Marymount California University
  • Yvonne Ortiz, AVID Program Manager for Higher Education

This fall, we welcomed first-year students affected by a pandemic, a recession, and racial injustices to our campuses. While the impact of these crises may affect two- and four-year institutions differently, these events will likely have long-term effects on our students and our campuses. Given this “new normal” innovation and creative problem-solving strategies are needed now more than ever to promote first-year success.
This session will explore frameworks for enhancing and validating the student experience in this new context. Participants will engage in design thinking activities to develop strategies for implementing FYE initiatives that promote educational equity and student success.

Registration Fee: $40

  • Maureen Grewe, Director of Student Conduct, University of South Carolin0a
  • Tad Derrick, Assistant Director of Harm Reduction and Compliance, Fraternity and Sorority Life, University of South Carolina

In this interactive workshop, participants will discuss the high-risk behaviors first year students experience when arriving to college including substance use, hazing, mental health, sexual assault and Title IX concerns. We will review components of a successful comprehensive education plan to address substance use, hazing, mental health, sexual assault and Title IX concerns with first year students.  Facilitators will utilize research, effective practice, and participants’ experiences to discuss how to manage these concerns for first year students. Participants will receive models of effective programs, as well as tools, strategies, and ideas on how to enhance programs and practices on their campus to improve the first-year experience.

Registration Fee: $40

  • Mike Dial, Assistant Director, First-Year Advising, University of South Carolina
  • Paige McKeown, Coordinator of First-Year Advising & Academic Intervention, University of South Carolina

This interactive session is designed to provide participants with the historical, theoretical, research, and practical background of early alert programs. Participants will explore and discuss the necessary components to leverage high quality early alert programming at a variety of institutional types and sizes. Facilitators will utilize research, effective practice, and participants’ experiences to discuss how to develop a mission and vision for early alert programs, design and facilitate effective interventions, prepare faculty and staff to monitor and respond to student risk indicators, and evaluate and assess early alert programs.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.