Inside Higher Ed recently published an article (here) that described a study examining the outcome of a one-hour group for first generation college students. In the study, students who attended a discussion/workshop where panelists discussed their own personal adjustment to college and how panelists found resources were much more likely to have higher GPA and utilize resources on campus than a control group. While this seems initially promising, there are some issues with the study. First, the study took place at a private institution. Would the results hold up at a public or larger university? Also, the workshop was optional, so students who were attending it may have been more motivated and therefore more likely to seek out resources or help where needed. We also don’t know what incentives were in place for people to attend the workshop. Finally, we don’t know what the difficulty level of the classes taken were between groups, meaning one group may have simply had simpler classes to take. Despite these issues, I think the authors are suggesting something very promising.
I think the idea of a panel is an excellent idea, but I wonder why it is a) optional, b) geared toward only first-generation and c) only during the first year. I am a firm believer in personal responsibility. That students need to seek out their own help and resources during their college years. They need to take advantage of office hours, trainings, career advice, etc. I realize, however, that students often do not have the skills necessary to seek out these services. They might not know even where to start, making a workshop or class important for students to attend. It would be great for a more “practical” class to be taught throughout college that is basically an outline of topics students are likely to encounter per year and how to seek out that aid. Student blogger laven also wrote about another potential first year seminar here. It isn’t meant to be hand-holding, just a more structured way for students of all years to know what is out there and how to get it. Ideal? Of course. Realistic? …….