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

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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.



Building Pathways for Transfer Student Success

Course Date: April 29 – May 24, 2019
Instructor: Mark Allen Poisel, EdD


This course will provide a comprehensive view and discussion of transfer student pathways and how to help transfer students achieve success across multiple institutions. The content will emphasize institutional partnerships, transfer and campus culture, recommended support services, and program assessment. Participants will be provided an overview of suggested strategies for improving the transfer student experience with the opportunity to analyze and review their current institution and how they impact transfer students. Participants will explore the various opportunities, challenges, and unique needs of transfer students with a focus on developing an action plan for their campuses to implement or enhance the programmatic initiatives for transfer student success. Individuals who work with transfer or new students (i.e., enrollment management, first-year programs, orientation, academic advising, retention, or academic support) are encouraged to enroll.

Course Objectives

As a result of this online course, students will

  • define and synthesize transfer student needs across multiple institutions;
  • enhance knowledge regarding the challenges faced by students, administrators, and faculty in meeting the needs of transfer students;
  • identify key strategies for partnership development and the benefits of collaborative services for transfer students;
  • create protocols to assess the transfer student culture, institutional policies, and student services impacting campuses; and
  • develop an action plan for implementing policies and programmatic initiatives to increase transfer student success on campus.
mark allen poisel

Mark Allen Poisel, EdD

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Mark Allen Poisel is the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Poisel is the chief Student Affairs and Enrollment Services officer at the university. He provides leadership, management, and supervision of enrollment areas, outreach and TRIO grants, student services and programs, and traditional student affairs functions. Poisel’s prior work experience includes leadership positions in academic and student affairs at Augusta University, Pace University, the University of Central Florida, the Florida Department of Education, Florida State University, and Indiana State University. Poisel has centered his career on student success initiatives. He has served as a keynote speaker at 16 conferences and symposia, conducted more than 65 presentations and workshops, and served as a consultant to other institutions of higher education on the topics of student success and strategic planning. He has published several articles and co-edited two books on transfer student success. He currently serves on the advisory board for the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students and is a past board member of the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition. Finally, his teaching experience includes courses on individual and team leadership. Poisel earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting and his master’s in college student personnel work from Indiana State University and his specialist degree and EdD, both in higher education, from Florida State University.

Registration Deadline: April 22, 2019
Course Capacity: 25 registrants 
Fee: $425


Fostering First-Year Student Success

Course Date: June 17 – July 12, 2019
Instructor: Stephanie M. Foote, PhD


This course is designed to engage participants in an exploration of the fundamental aspects of first-year student success. Drawing from multiple perspectives, participants in the course will be challenged to (a) move beyond generational characteristics to fully understand who first-year students are and what issues potentially impact their success; (b) apply the information generated through readings, reflective assignments, and discussion to innovate practices aimed at fostering first-year student success; and (c) develop a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods that can be used to measure first-year student success.

Course Objectives

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

  • identify issues that impact the success of first-year students on their campus,
  • develop strategies and transform existing practices to encourage first-year student success, and
  • understand how to use qualitative and quantitative methods to measure first-year student success.

Required Text: Upcraft, M. L., Gardner, J. N., & Barefoot, B. O. (2005). Challenging & Supporting The First-Year Student: A Handbook for Improving the First Year of College. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

stephanie foote

Stephanie M. Foote, PhD

Assistant Vice President for Teaching, Learning, and Evidence-Based Practices

The John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education

Dr. Stephanie M. Foote is the Assistant Vice President for Teaching, Learning, and Evidence-Based Practices at the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education. Prior to joining the Institute staff in August 2017, Foote was the founding Director of the Master of Science in First-Year Studies, professor of education in the Department of First-Year and Transition Studies, and faculty fellow for High-Impact Practices at Kennesaw State University (KSU). Before joining the faculty at KSU, Foote served as the founding Director of the Academic Success Center and First-Year Experience at the University of South Carolina Aiken and was the Associate Director for Student Orientation and Family Programs at Stony Brook University. Her scholarship and consultative work span a variety of aspects of student development and transition, including: the role of first-year seminars and experiential pedagogy on student engagement in the early college experience, the community college transfer student transition, self-authorship development, engagement and learning in online environments, faculty development, metacognitive teaching and learning approaches, and high-impact educational practices. Foote is a recipient of the McGraw-Hill Excellence in Teaching First-Year Seminars award, and a past recipient of the NODA Outstanding Research Award for her research on the effects of first-year seminar participation on students in the early college experience. 

Registration Deadline: June 7, 2019
Course Capacity: 40 registrants 
Fee: $425


Applying Student Development Theory to College Transition Programs

Course Date: Aug. 12 – Sept. 6, 2019

Instructor: Tracy Skipper, PhD


Since the 1970s, theories of student development have provided a useful framework for identifying student needs, designing educational practice, and assessing learning and developmental outcomes. With the ever-increasing diversity of college students in the United States, researchers and educators have questioned the relevance of many of these theories. Despite these challenges, student development theory remains an important body of knowledge informing the work of educators throughout the academy as they design classroom experiences, programs, and interventions for college students in transition. This online course will introduce key student development theories and explore current research and practice related to them. Participants will evaluate the usefulness of these theories for creating developmentally appropriate educational practices on their own campuses and consider strategies for assessing developmental outcomes.

Course Objectives

As a result of completing this course, participants will be able to use selected theories to

  • support their understanding and identify potential needs of students with whom they work,
  • set goals and identify developmentally appropriate outcomes for students in transition,
  • design programs or pedagogies to help students meet identified outcomes, and
  • create an assessment plan for measuring specific developmental outcomes.
tracy skipper

Tracy Skipper, PhD

Assistant Director for Publications

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

University of South Carolina

Tracy Lynn Skipper is Assistant Director for Publications for the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition at the University of South Carolina. She has more than 15 years of experience in academic publishing, specializing in acquisitions and content development of research and practice literature in higher education. An accomplished editor and writer, Skipper edited (with Roxanne Argo) Involvement in Campus Activities and the Retention of First-Year College Students (2003), wrote Student Development in the First College Year: A Primer for College Educators (2005), and served as managing editor of the five-volume series The First-Year Seminar: Designing, Implementing, and Assessing Courses to Support Student Learning and Success (2011-2012). Most recently, she co-authored the volume Writing in the Senior Capstone: Theory and Practice with Lea Masiello and edited What Makes the First-Year Seminar High Impact? Exploring Effective Educational Practices (2017). She holds degrees in psychology, higher education, American literature, and rhetoric and composition. In addition to her writing and editorial work, she has served as a student affairs administrator, taught writing at the college level, and presented writing workshops for higher education professionals. She has presented on the application of student development theory to curricular and cocurricular contexts and what national datasets suggest about the organization and administration of high-impact educational practices. Her research interests include the application of cognitive–structural development to composition pedagogy and the use of writing in first-year seminars and senior capstone courses.

Registration Deadline: Aug. 5, 2019
Course Capacity: 25 registrants 
Fee: $425


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 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 at National Louis University. He 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: Oct. 1, 2019
Course Capacity: 25 registrants 
Fee: $425