Saturday, February 04, 2006

AHS 101

According to College Knowledge, many universities are offering an "initiation" course - to prepare students for the expectations of the university.

The goal is to expose them early on to the core values of the institution so they understand the purpose of the general education, and by extension, what the goal of a college education should be.

. . . The first year interest groups at the University of Oregon are typical examples. Students take two regular degree-satisfying courses together in groups of twenty-five during the fall term along with students from the larger university population. In addition, they enroll in a one-credit course entitled College Connections, which is taught by one of the faculty teaching the larger course. (p. 137)
I've been thinking for a while that Arapahoe needs something like this, basically an AHS 101 course that introduces them to the expectations of Arapahoe, as well as maybe teaches some of the "basics" that we want them to know for their core courses (things like how to cite references for papers; or how to complete a science lab writeup - as just a couple of examples). This would maybe free up some time in our classes that we currently spend on expectations and skills that we teach multiple times, just because we aren't sure if they've ever been exposed to them before.

I first approached this from a technology perspective, thinking I wanted to offer (require?) all incoming freshmen to attend a course before school starts that introduced them to all the basics of technology at AHS (their logins, how to use the server, how to access email, maybe basic MS Office stuff). But I quickly realized that if this was a good idea for technology, this was an even better idea of we expanded it to include more skills and expectations in more areas.

I see two different ways we could do this. First, we could offer something in the summer. I've heard that we may be offering a week-long "enrichment" class this summer for incoming freshmen, but I don't really know what it's about. The problem with this approach is whether or not we could require all freshmen to do something like this, much less staff it. A second approach would be to offer either a 1 or 2 credit course that all freshmen would have to take either first or second semester (or both). This gets around the problem of how to get all freshmen to take it, but it has a whole bunch of scheduling implications (although a one hour course might not be too much problem, other than staffing).

I don't know if this is feasible or not, but I think this could really help our students - both with specific skills that will help them in high school (and beyond), and with communicating the vision of what we want them to get from their education at Arapahoe. Do any of you think this would be something worthwhile to pursue?


  1. Karl, I think that's an awesome idea!

    So many things like logins, checking grades, (how about blogger accounts?!), lab reports, are so important. Yet they're usually taught as a means to another project. So we rush through it and hope that the kids are quick enough to pick it up. I'm also finding that based on their current "track," kids typically have a lot of the same teachers. (Ex: My freshman in sophomore bio usually have Anne or Kristin in Honors English). So, they either get inundated with eight teachers explaining how to blog, or don't get it at all. A class for every freshman would definitely take care of that problem. When we talk about checking grades, blogging, etc., we would know that every kid had already had it. Plus, that would be the focus of the class, so kids would get a more in depth explanation.

    I'm not sure of the logistics, but given Ron's support of Link Crew, it could probably be incorporated somehow. Obviously not as something to "dump" on Link Sponsors, but maybe as the second half (or second day) of Orientation...perhaps teachers could volunteer to be trained and be compensated through a grant or PTO money?

  2. From what Brad said at our department meeting, it sounds like some teachers are interested in teaching 1-credit courses like this. The idea is to get away from useless, punitive study halls, and give all students the tools that they need to be successful. An interesting question was raised to Ron (who attended the meeting): would these study hall-replacement classes be considered a teacher's duty, or would they just be considered part of our teaching responsibilities? My impression was that the answer to that question still needs to be worked out.