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

Online Courses

Online Courses

The National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition is pleased to now offer online courses on current topics related to the first-year experience and students in transition.

Online courses are designed to come as close as possible to providing students with the same course content and opportunities for interaction with classmates and with the instructor as traditional or classroom-based courses, as well as take advantage of pedagogy and teaching techniques that are uncommon or not possible in a traditional format. Our online courses take place during a four- or five-week period, with the majority of instruction occurring in an asynchronous environment. Asynchronous instruction is neither time-bound nor place-bound and does not require the simultaneous participation of all students and instructors. It uses tools such as email, threaded discussions/forums, listservs, and blogs.

Participants will earn 1.5 continuing education units.

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Each online course has limited registration, so early registration is encouraged.



Students in Crisis: Supporting Undocumented College Students on Your Campus

Course Date: Sept. 23 – Oct. 18, 2019

Instructor: Benjamin M. Drury


This course focuses on challenges undocumented college students in the United States face and how to best support them on your campus. Participants in this course will emerge with a deeper understanding of the history and genesis of The DREAM Act; barriers that undocumented students face before, during, and after higher education; ways to engage students in planning processes for supportive structures; ways to integrate financial, mental wellness, immigration, and other resources for undocumented students in your community; and ways to assess outcomes of institutional initiatives in order to document successes and improve on weaknesses in your campus programming.

Course Outline and Objectives

Week 1: Summarize the history of The DREAM Act and current state of DACA legislation in America.

Week 2: Devise a strategy to engage students in planning and executing any supportive resources.

Week 3: Formulate a plan to support undocumented college students on your campus.

Week 4: Assess the needs of undocumented students on your campus.

benjamin drury

Benjamin M. Drury

Instructor of Sociology Morton College

Benjamin M. Drury currently teaches a variety of sociology and first-year seminar courses in and around the Chicago area. He completed his Master of Arts degree in medical sociology at Indiana University in Indianapolis in 2009 and is currently pursuing his doctoral degree in education focusing on curriculum, advocacy, and policy as it relates to Latinx college student experiences at National Louis University. Benjamin began his work with undocumented immigrants in 2014. At that time, he recently accepted a teaching position at a Hispanic-Serving Institution in the Chicago area. Students began to report experiencing obstacles to being undocumented and college students. In 2015, he started working with a group of students to promote knowledge building and ally recruitment for undocumented on his campus. We held open forums on campus to learn about the needs of these students. We communicated those needs to administrators and worked to create resources for these students. Most significantly, we currently host an annual DACA Ally Training for faculty and staff which is entirely student led. Benjamin also works on the policy side of undocumented college students by supporting legislation initiatives and community organizations aimed at increasing equitable access to funding and other resources. He currently lives in the Hyde Park neighborhood on Chicago’s south side with his wife and son.

Registration Deadline: Sept. 13, 2019
Course Capacity: 25 registrants 
Fee: $425


Common Reading: Creating Community Beyond the Book

Course Date: Nov. 11 – Dec. 6, 2019

Instructor: Catherine F. Andersen


Common-reading programs, defined for the purpose of this course, occur when groups of incoming first-year students read the same book(s) and participate in activities that create a common intellectual experience. These programs are becoming an important component of first-year experience initiatives and are most frequently designed to provide new students an introduction to the intellectual expectations of college in formal and informal gatherings. High-impact programs go beyond book discussion groups and include students, faculty, staff, and the larger community in an array of social, intellectual, and civic activities.  

Individuals in this course will discuss the benefits and goals of a program; learn about the various types of programs; and explore how programs differ in scope, impact, and cost. Participants will design a comprehensive plan for their own campus that includes goals and outcomes, an assessment plan, a budget, book selection criteria, and curricular and cocurricular programming.

Course Goals and Learning Outcomes

As a result of this online course, participants will be able to

  • identify the rationale and characteristic of common-reading programs;
  • identify the variety of programming opportunities for common-reading programs;
  • develop a common-reading program plan specific to their institution that includes program goals, book selection criteria, event promotion strategies, curricular and cocurricular opportunities, a budget, and an assessment plan.

Required Text: Laufgraben, J. L. (2006). Common reading programs: Going beyond the book (Monograph No. 44). Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina, National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience & Students in Transition.

catherine anderson

Catherine F. Andersen

Vice Provost for Academic Affairs University of Baltimore

Catherine Andersen is presently the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs at the University of Baltimore and professor in the Kline School of Communication where, among her many roles, she is responsible for institutional effectiveness, accreditation, and assessment. Prior to this position, she enjoyed a long career at Gallaudet University, serving as Chief Enrollment and Marketing Officer, Associate Provost, Dean of Enrollment and General Studies, Director of the First-Year Experience, and Chairperson of the Communication and Developmental Studies Department. Andersen has served on the National Advisory Board of the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition and is a fellow with the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education. Andersen is also Professor Emeritus at Gallaudet University and was awarded the honor of Gallaudet’s Distinguished Faculty of the Year. In 1997, she was named one of the nation’s Outstanding First-Year Student Advocates.

Registration Deadline: Nov. 1, 2019
Course Capacity: 25 registrants 
Fee: $425

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